Vatican names German lawyer as head of its bank

VATICAN CITY Fri Feb 15, 2013 6:03pm IST

Tourists visit Saint Peter's square at the Vatican February 14, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Tourists visit Saint Peter's square at the Vatican February 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican appointed German lawyer Ernst von Freyberg to be the new president of its bank on Friday, filling a post left vacant since May when the previous head was ousted from the scandal-tainted institution.

The appointment was made by a commission of cardinals and approved by Pope Benedict and is likely to be one of his last major decisions before he resigns at the end of the month.

The Vatican has been trying to shed a reputation for a lack of financial transparency at the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), but has been dogged by scandals for decades.

A Vatican statement said Freyberg brought "a vast experience of financial matters and the financial regulatory process." Born in 1958, he is on the advisory board of temporary employment agency Manpower GmbH (MAN.N) and of asset management firm Flossbach von Storch AG.

In May, the board of the IOR unanimously passed a no confidence motion against then head Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, an Italian.

Like Gotti Tedeschi, the new bank chief is a devout Catholic.

The Vatican said some 40 people from around the world were considered for the post.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, in answer to a question at a news briefing, said Freyberg was not a personal friend of the pope's.

(Writing by Robin Pomeroy)

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