Vatican Ban Scandal and Corruption: Pope Francis Backs Corrupt Vatican City Financial Institution
Vatican officials announced Monday that Pope Francis is supporting the Vatican's bank, which has been the subject of scandal and corruption in the last few months, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The bank "will continue to serve with prudence and provide specialized financial services to the (Roman) Catholic Church worldwide," the Vatican said in a statement.
Last July, Francis said he was still undecided on what to do with the bank, known by its Italian acronym the IOR. He addressed the need for a "poor church" that disdains lavishness.
"I don't know what will become of the bank," Francis said. "Some say it is better that it is a bank, others that it should be a charitable fund and other say close it."
The bank, which was established in 1942 for priests, nuns, religious orders and Vatican employees, is alleged to have engaged in illegal money-laundering and tax-dodging practices, according to the Times.
An investigation was launched into the bank's 18,900 accounts that is expected to conclude sometime this summer and numerous lay account holders have been ordered to close their accounts if they do not match the bank's new tightened up customer profile.
Since the allegations emerged in 2012, Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI have made strides in increasing transparency and have adopted internationally approved standards and procedures, according to the Times.
The two former bank managers, Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli, were charged on suspicion of violating money-laundering regulations and will stand trial, Italian magistrates said last month.
A Vatican functionary and senior prelate, Nunzio Scarano, will also face trial on charges of allegedly trying to smuggle about $27.5 million into Italy in a tax-dodging scam.
Pope Francis had reaffirmed "the importance of the IOR's mission for the good of the Catholic Church, the Holy See and the Vatican City State," according to the Vatican statement.
It also said that the bank needed to make its improvement and comply with regulations for the sake of the bank's future and added that IOR would continue to be monitored by the Financial Information Authority, a supervisory body launched by Benedict in 2011.
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