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Suspicious financial activity at Vatican decreasing, says report

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Suspicious financial activity in the Vatican has decreased for the second year in a row, according to a report from the Vatican’s financial watchdog.

The report said that 150 suspicious financial transactions were flagged in 2017, 57 fewer than in the previous year. Of those, only eight were judged possibly to be the result of criminal activity, with reports sent to the Promoter of Justice in the Vatican City State’s tribunal for investigation, compared to 24 the previous year. None of the suspicious transactions were related to financing terrorism, said the report.

The Financial Information Authority (AIF) was set up by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 as an anti-money laundering watchdog unit, following decades of scandals involving the Vatican Bank (more properly the Institute for Works of Religion). Its 2017 report, released today (Friday), confirmed a “robust reporting system and an effective application of the regulatory framework of the Holy See and the Vatican City State”.

The report said there had been one “successful prosecution of serious criminal offences” in 2017, the trial of Giuseppe Profiti, the former president of the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù Hospital. He was given a one-year suspended prison sentence for “abuse of power” for diverting €422,000 (£370,000/$500,000) of the paediatric hospital’s funds for the upgrading of the Vatican apartment of former Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

“2017 has been a year of consolidation and normalization of our institutional activities,” said AIF’s head, Swiss lawyer René Brülhart.