A highly anticipated review of the Vatican’s efforts to combat money laundering and reform its institutional financial practices began on Wednesday. A communiqué from the Press Office of the Holy See confirmed on Wednesday morning that a team of assessors from the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Measures against Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism – Moneyval begins today.
The Vatican statement stressed that the review is not special to the Holy See, but “held in the context of the Fifth Evaluation Round, agreed upon 2019, to which all the member jurisdictions of Moneyval are subjected to review.”
The review is to assess “the effectiveness of the legislative and institutional measures adopted by the jurisdictions in recent years for the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorism.”
“The current evaluation,” the Press Office communiqué goes on to say, “is a regular part of a process that began with the first on site visit, in 2012, and the subsequent adoption of the Mutual Evaluation Report of the Holy See, of 4 July 2012, followed by the First Progress Report, of 9 December 2013, the Second Progress Report, of 8 December 2015, and the Third Progress Report, of 6 December 2017.”
The Holy See has been embroiled in numerous financial scandals in recent years, and was briefly suspended from the information-sharing network of the world’s premier financial intelligence club, the Egmont Group. Moneyval had encouraged the Holy See to join Egmont, a 164-nation network of financial intelligence units, as part of making the Holy See fit for Moneyval membership.
The suspension came in the wake of poorly managed raids on offices in the Secretariat of State in connection with the $200 million real estate development deal involving the Holy See in property at 60 Sloane Ave, London. The raids led to documents related to financial intelligence units’ activities being leaked to the press.
The cardinal who shepherded that deal when he was sostituto in State — roughly the pope’s chief-of-staff — Cardinal GIovanni Angelo Becciu, recently resigned from his position as Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and renounced the rights associated with cardinalatial rank. Pope Francis promoted Becciu to Saints in 2018, around the time the Sloane Ave deal was under stress and risked coming completely unraveled.
Earlier this year, other leaked documents showed the Vatican to be in severe financial distress.
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