Australia’s financial crime watchdog, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), admitted that it had severely overestimated Vatican transfers, The Australian reported.
The mistake, which AUSTRAC blamed on ‘computing code error’, was discovered after it carried out a “detailed review” of its first findings which suggested $1.8 billion dollars had been sent from the Vatican to Australia in 47,000 transfers between the two countries since 2014.
After a weeks-long investigation conducted with the financial intelligence unit of the Holy See, AUSTRAC came to the conclusion that there were only 362 transfers from the Vatican to Australia over the period 2014-2020, totalling $9.5 million.
A statement from the Press Office of the Holy See on Wednesday confirmed the $9.5 million figure, which it said was “traceable to contractual obligations and resource management.”
According to The Australian‘s report, AUSTRAC, which is continuing its investigation, ‘reaffirmed its confidence in the original financial intelligence about suspicious money transfers, which are being probed by Vatican prosecutors examining hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud and money laundering”.
Australia’s bishops have claimed no knowledge of the $1.8 billion. In comments to Reuters, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane said that “I can assure you that no diocese or other Church entity saw any of the money.”