Vatican Bank involved in money-laundering?

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Nick Squires – March 20, 2012

Thirty years after it was entangled in a scandal involving the mafia, money laundering and the mysterious death of the man nicknamed "God's banker", the Vatican bank faces fresh controversy.

The bank — formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion or IOR — has suffered the ignominy of having one of its accounts closed by JP Morgan after stone-walling requests for information.

The sanction came less than two weeks after the US State Department listed the Vatican as being potentially vulnerable to money laundering.

A Milan affiliate of JP Morgan said it will shut the account by the end of the month after revealing Vatican bankers had been "unable to respond" to requests for details about payments into the account.

A spokesperson for JP Morgan in Milan declined to comment, citing client confidentiality.

The Milan branch had been seeking information since 2010, when the Vatican bank was accused by authorities in Rome of contravening money-laundering regulations.

In an unusual move, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the Vatican bank, was placed under investigation and a judge in Rome ordered a freeze on €23 milliom (£19.5 million) held in one of the bank's accounts.

The scandal prompted the Vatican bank to initiate anti-money-laundering legislation, which is currently being debated by the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.

The Vatican has a chequered history on financial transparency and propriety. Its financial past has included, most notoriously, its involvement in the bankruptcy of Italy's largest private bank, the Banco Ambrosiano, in 1982. Its president, Roberto Calvi, nicknamed "God's banker", was found hanged beneath London's Blackfriars Bridge, with investigators unable to rule whether he had committed suicide or was murdered.

The Vatican bank was unavailable for comment.

Original article on DNA India website