Vatican Bank probed for money laundering

Vatican Bank probed for money laundering

ROME – A probe has been opened by Rome magistrates to determine whether the Vatican bank, the Istituto Opere di Religione (IOR), violated Italian laws against money laundering.

The probe is focusing on one or more accounts IOR opened with Unicredit, Italy’s biggest bank, through which some 60 million euros transited over the past three years.

In particular, the investigation will seek to verify whether a 2007 Italian law on transparency in regard to the identity of the account holder or executor was violated.

The possibility that the Vatican accounts violated this law was brought forward by the Bank of Italy special ‘financial intelligence’ unit which passed the information to the Finance Guard which, in turn, forwarded the case to the Rome justice department.

Judicial sources said the probe is currently centered on clarifying the “opaque screen” which hid the identity of the person, persons or organizations that had actual control over the IOR accounts.

Investigators are also trying to discover the beneficiaries of checks and bank drafts issued from the IOR accounts and who ordered them. The accounts were opened at a branch of Unicredit, then Banca di Roma, located on the avenue which leads into St Peter’s Square, via della Conciliazione, in Italian territory.

Thanks to kchiu for the submission.

Italian government near collapse after Vatican ‘plot’

 Isn’t it great when religion and politics mix?

Italian government near collapse after Vatican ‘plot’

The Vatican has been accused of trying to bring down the Italian government after a Catholic minister abandoned Romano Prodi’s coalition government, leaving it facing collapse.

The prime minister was forced to call a vote of confidence after Clemente Mastella, the former justice minister, withdrew his support on Monday.

Mr Mastella’s Udeur Christian Democrat party has three crucial seats in the Senate, where Mr Prodi had a majority of two, at best.

New elections could be called, or a caretaker government could be appointed to reform the complicated electoral law if Mr Prodi loses the vote of confidence in both chambers.

Silvio Berlusconi, the leader of the opposition, said yesterday that he wants “elections in the spring”.

Mr Mastella resigned from the government last week, after he and his wife were implicated in a cash-for-favours scandal.

He promised that his party would vote with the government, but changed his mind over the weekend. Now he has said Mr Prodi’s coalition was “dead, dead, dead”.

The impetus for his change of heart appears to have come from the Vatican, which has voiced its disapproval at Mr Prodi’s stance on gay rights and abortion.

The Vatican also shook the government last year, when Mr Prodi lost a vote on his foreign policy on the same day that a gay marriage bill entered parliament.