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Holy bank Court agrees to give Vatican bank data to Italy

View inside the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), or Vatican Bank, taken in July 2013

(swissinfo.ch)

A Swiss court has rejected an appeal by the Vatican’s bank asking it not to disclose information from one of its Swiss bank accounts, which is suspected of being used for fraud.

Judges at Switzerland’s federal criminal court have approved the transfer of bank information sought by prosecutors in Italy from the account held by the Vatican bank –  officially known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR) – in a decision from December 2, 2014, published on Monday.

Italian prosecutors suspect the account was used by third parties in 2007 and 2008 to launder as a donation funds from the sale of a company.

The Swiss judges rejected an appeal from the IOR, which had invoked the Vatican's sovereign immunity. However, they accepted the principle of proportionality  to prevent information not pertinent to the investigation being transferred.

The IOR has been trying to rid itself of a reputation for shady dealings, following a series of money-laundering scandals in the past.

Reuters reported last December that the Vatican’s top prosecutor had frozen €16 million in bank accounts, owned by two former Vatican bank managers and a lawyer, as part of an investigation into the sale of Vatican-owned real estate in the 2000s.

This investigation follows an audit of the Vatican bank by non-Vatican financial consultants commissioned in 2013 by the bank’s current management.

The investigation is part of a drive to improve the transparency of the Vatican administration and finances, an endeavour that has accelerated under Pope Francis. The Argentinian pontiff was elected in 2013 with a mandate to make the Roman Catholic Church more accountable to its 1.2 billion faithful. 

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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