Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 9:53 am

New head of Vatican bank expected within week

By NICOLE WINFIELDAssociated Press

The Vatican says a new president of its embattled bank is expected to be announced within days.

The Institute for Religious Works, or IOR, has been without a leader since May, when its board ousted Italian banker Ettore Gotti Tedeschi for incompetence. It was a stunning move that came just as the Vatican was submitting its finances to a review by a Council of Europe committee in a bid to join the list of financially transparent countries.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Wednesday a new president would likely be named within the week.

The Vatican passed the Council of Europe Moneyval committee's transparency test, but the IOR and the Vatican's financial watchdog agency received failing grades. The new president will be tasked with bringing the IOR into compliance by Moneyval's next review.

Separately this week, the Vatican finalized a deal with a Swiss firm to restore electronic payment services within the Vatican after it had to survive for more than a month as a "cash only" city state.

Italy's central bank compelled Deutsche Bank Italia to stop providing electronic payment services to the Holy See on Dec. 31, claiming it had no choice because the Vatican had no banking regulatory framework or EU-recognized alternative for anti-money-laundering purposes.

That has meant that visitors to the Vatican Museums - they numbered 5 million last year - and the Vatican post office have had to pay cash for tickets and any other transactions - an inconvenience that some reports have estimated cost the Vatican tens of thousands of euros. The Vatican Museums are critical to the Vatican city state's bottom line, with 2011 revenues amounting to euro91.3 million ($123 million) and helping the city state post a budget surplus of euro21.8 million.

Lombardi said the services were restored on Tuesday thanks to an agreement with Swiss cashless payment firm Aduno SA.