News24

Bringing $14K inside Vatican City? Declare it

2011-04-01 19:39

Vatican City - The Holy See issued a new rule on Friday requiring anyone bringing $14 000 or more into Vatican City to declare it - the latest initiative by the Vatican to come into compliance with international finance norms.

The rule was introduced the same day the Vatican's broader anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regulations went into effect, including the creation of a new financial watchdog agency tasked with ensuring transparency in Vatican finances.

It announced the measures on December 30 in a major effort to comply with European Union currency norms and shed its image as a tax haven with a reputation for secrecy and scandal.

The Vatican's own bank, meanwhile, remains implicated in a money-laundering investigation that resulted in $31m being seized and its top two officials placed under investigation last September.

The Vatican has denied wrongdoing and says the investigation of the bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR, resulted from a misunderstanding that it expected would be cleared up. Prosecutors haven't charged the officials.

The bank was created to manage assets placed in its care that are destined for the pope's religious or charitable works. But it also manages ATMs inside Vatican City and the pension system for the Vatican's thousands of employees.

The bank is not open to the public and its list of account holders is secret. But bank officials have told prosecutors there are some 40 000-45 000 among religious congregations, clergy, Vatican officials and lay people with Vatican connections.

Pope Benedict XVI, who wrote an entire encyclical about the need for greater morality in finance, has said he wanted the Vatican to join other countries that have cracked down on legal loopholes that have allowed criminals to exploit the financial sector.