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Vatican continues steps to fight serious financial crime, agency says

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Holy See and Vatican City State have continued to strengthen their institutional, legal and operational frameworks for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism, an international monitoring organization said.

“Moneyval” — the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism — approved the Vatican’s report on its efforts Dec. 8 during a meeting in Strasbourg, France. The committee also issued an assessment of the Vatican’s report, which was expected to be published by mid-December, a spokesman for Moneyval told Catholic News Service Dec. 9.

The report and assessment are “part of the ordinary reporting process foreseen in the Rules of Procedure of Moneyval for all member states,” the Vatican said in a statement Dec. 9.

“The latest progress report confirms that the Holy See has established a functional, sustainable and effective system, aiming at preventing and fighting financial crimes,” said Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for relations with states and head of the Vatican delegation to the Moneyval plenary.

In 2010, the Vatican began a process of drawing up new finance laws, regulations and criminal penalties in an effort to better comply with international standards in the fight against money laundering and against financing criminal and terrorist networks. The Vatican requested the Moneyval evaluation in 2011 to help it develop tougher laws.

A key focus of the Moneyval evaluations has been encouraging the Vatican to strengthen the ability of its Financial Intelligence Authority to set policy to prevent financial crimes, to freeze assets when suspicious activities occur and to audit financial transactions throughout Vatican City.

Stricter monitoring of the Institute for the Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican bank, and the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, which handles Vatican investments and real estate holdings, has been a particular concern to Moneyval.

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