Vatican's failure to prosecute financial crimes criticized

The Vatican's failure to punish financial crimes was exposed Tuesday in a Council of Europe report that revealed how three years of anti-money laundering activities have yet to translate into any indictments.

The charge comes in the wake of the VatiLeaks 2 scandal, related to the publication of embarassing information about the Vatican's financial shenanigans and internal resistance to transparency reforms driven by Pope Francis.

The Moneyval committee of the Council of Europe, which has been monitoring the Vatican's progress on financial transparency since mid-2012, said its prosecutors had opened 29 money laundering investigations - but have not managed to bring any case to trial.

"This situation needs to be improved," the panel said in a report.

Moneyval experts said they had questions on the capacity of Vatican prosecutors and police "to pursue financial and money laundering investigations effectively and in a timely manner."

The Strasbourg-based panel also revealed that 11.2 million euros (11.35 million dollars) are currently held frozen by Vatican prosecutors in connection to money laundering investigations, including 415,813 euros in the January-September period.

The Vatican City State is the world's smallest nation. In recent years it has come under increasing international pressure to shed its reputation as a money laundering haven, and clean up its shady bank, the Institute for Religious Works.

Starting from 2010, Francis and his predecessor Benedict XVI have passed several reforms to improve book-keeping and financial transparency. Moneyval acknowledged such efforts, but said they needed to be followed up.

"All in all, the basically sound legal structure that has been put in place to prevent and prosecute money laundering now needs to deliver some real results on the prosecutorial side," it said.

Last update: Tue, 15/12/2015 - 10:23

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