ST. PETER’S AT SUNSET
This was confirmed by AIF director, Francesco De Pasquale, who had criticised the new laws in recent months
ANDREA TORNIELLI of Vatican Insider
The new Vatican anti-money laundering law which came into force last January provides “a more precise and complete institutional system” in comparison to Moneyval’s requests. The fact that such a comment on the new financial transparency laws – which have sparked serious controversy over the past few months – should come from the director of the AIF (the Vatican Financial Information Authority), Francesco De Pasquale, is significant.
The Vatican’s transparency law (No. 127), written by lawyer Marcello Condemi towards the end of 2010 and enforced in April 2011, was meant to undergo some modifications to help it meet international criteria for inclusion in the OECD’s white list of financially virtuous countries. These modifications - which were made within the space of just three weeks last December, by a workgroup whose participants included American lawyer, Jeffrey Lena - came into force on 25 January this year. The President of the AIF, Cardinal Nicora, Gotti Tedeschi and De Pasquale himself, held that in some points, the new law excessively scaled down the AIF’s power and as such was seen as a step backwards. This was the last battle fought by the President of the Vatican bank (IOR) before the no-confidence vote which led to his sudden dismissal.
The Secretary of State had always claimed that the new laws had actually been introduced in response to the requests and suggestions made by Moneyval (Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism) that was called to assess the Holy See’s compliance to international laws. De Pasquale, who gave a speech at a convention organised by the Elea centre, explained that “we are committed to taking on the challenges” that arise from the application of laws and international standards, which are “being constantly updated” in order to combat the various forms of money laundering.
De Pasquale outlined the path of transparency begun by the Holy See through the implementation of the first 2010 law, which established the Vatican financial monitoring authority. “The law became effective in April 2011,” the AIF’s director said. “At the same time, the Holy See agreed to undergo Moneyval’s evaluation procedures. The visit by the Council of Europe’s inspectors was coupled with a modification to the law in force, with a decree dated 25 January, ratified by the law dated 24 April 2012 which created a more precise and complete institutional system for tackling money laundering and defined its specific functions.”
De Pasquale went on to state that the political and strategic responsibility lies with the Secretariat of State, the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State is in charge of inspections and the Gendarmerie is in charge of law enforcement.”“Regulations are not static, they change, they are being continuously updated, as is the way in which crime works. We are committed to taking on this challenge,” he concluded.
The upcoming meeting in Strasbourg on 4 July will be a crucial stepping stone. This is when the Vatican’s position will be discussed. The Moneyval inspectors’ report allegedly gave the Holy See a negative evaluation in 8 out of the 49 standard criteria used to measure a country’s financial transparency. The Vatican was said to be partially or not compliant with standards in eight of the sixteen points considered crucial. But as Italian daily newspaper Il Corriere della Sera pointed out, the total score given to the Vatican in Moneyval’s inspection report still has under 10 negative points. So the Holy See could have finally made it to the famous white list.