* Vatican hopes to make "white list" of financial
* Its bank has been mired in scandal in the past
* Director says bank now compliant, clean, and open
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY, June 28 The Vatican bank,
attempting to project a new image of transparency ahead of a
decision by EU financial authorities next month, lifted its veil
of secrecy on Thursday by allowing journalists to visit the
institution for the first time.
The tour came one month after the bank's president, Ettore
Gotti Tedeschi, was ousted by the board of the bank, in a move
he said was aimed at stopping his efforts to make the bank more
transparent. The Vatican said he was just a bad manager.
It also followed allegations by Italian magistrates that the
bank may have been involved in money laundering, which the
"We have nothing to hide," said Paolo Cipriani,
director-general of the bank, officially known as the Institute
for Works of Religion (IOR).
"I want to deflate the legend once and for all: There are no
numbered accounts and there are no links to offshore banks," he
Using slides in the bank's conference room, decorated with a
fresco of the Madonna on the ceiling, Cipriani said the bank had
put into effect measures to comply with international standards
on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism.
"We have developed an anti-money laundering mentality here,"
he said. "We block any transaction that is even slightly
Next month, the Vatican will face the judgment of MONEYVAL,
a Council of Europe monitoring mechanism that rates states on
their effectiveness to fight money laundering and terrorism
financing and comply with international standards.
In 2010 the Vatican drafted new financial transparency laws
and set up internal regulations. The move is an attempt to make
the "white list" of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force
(FATF), a body that lists states according to their compliance
with those standards.
The tiny city-state's bank, however, has been in upheaval
since May 24, when Gotti Tedeschi was ousted by the board.
Both Gotti Tedeschi and Cipriani are under investigation by
Rome magistrates in a probe that began in 2010 when they froze
23 million euros ($33 million) th e IOR held in two Italian
Cipriani said the bank did nothing wrong and was merely
carrying out "normal operations" by transferring its own funds
between its own accounts in Italy and Germany. The money was
released in June 2011, but the investigation is continuing.
The Vatican bank, housed in the 15th-century Tower of
Nicholas V, provides financial services to Catholic institutions
such as charities and orders of priests and nuns.
The IOR's most infamous entanglement with scandal involved
the fraudulent collapse 30 years ago of the Banco Ambrosiano, of
which the Vatican bank held a small stake. Ambrosiano chairman
was mysteriously founded hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in
London shortly after the collapse.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Myra MacDonald)