“Moneyval has disproved myth of Vatican and IOR’s lack of transparency,” says Holy See’s lawyer-Taken from Clerical Whispers
“Your statement confirms part of the problem: saying that the Vatican still has a lot of work to do, without comparing its report to those of other countries gives the impression that the Vatican is an exception.
If we look at all the reports, one thing is obvious: the results of every single report for each country show that they still have a lot of work to do, because standards are often far more up to date and ahead in terms of the domestic laws of participating countries.
One thing that does not appear in all reports but is present in the Holy See one, is that assessors noticed and appreciated the openness and ability of the IOR and the entire Vatican to work hard and effectively and to adapt and make progress in real time, even during the assessment process.”
Why does the report refer to the Vatican situation last November?
“The report illustrates a precise moment in time: November 2011. This is when Moneyval assessors paid their first visit. It should also be noted that the Holy See had until 26 January 2012 to introduce necessary reforms. So the score we achieved for the period being examined is very good. It does not however reflect the situation in the Vatican on the date on which the report was published, July that is.
Much progress in the improvement of the money laundering system was made after January 2012, but these further modifications are only mentioned in the report’s footnotes, not in the main body of the text.
These footnotes demonstrate that the anti-money laundering system, the IOR’s especially, is in fact a lot more advanced than nine months ago. So the real picture is even better than that painted by the report.”
Let’s talk about the more controversial points. Why does the Vatican have problems cooperating on an international level?
“Moneyval’s assessors have examined the issue of international cooperation, to do with the replies to letters rogatory and so on, carefully. It should be noted that although the Vatican has established relations with almost all countries in the world, the accusation of non-cooperation was only made by one country.
Contrary to the recent statements regarding international cooperation made by a number of Italian newspapers in recent months, assessors concluded, paying close attention to the facts, that the Vatican – which was found to be “largely compliant” – had no problems in passing this part of the assessment.
The constant accusation of non-cooperation is unfair. For example, whoever wrote last January that the Vatican “failed to reply” to a letter rogatory apparently dated 2002, will be surprised to discover that this letter was in fact never sent from the requesting country and so never reached the Vatican!”
Is it true that the IOR fooled Italy, failing to provide information relative to the period before April 2011, on the basis of the non-retroactivity of the anti money laundering law?
“Moneyval’s assessors examined the relevant concrete proof and concluded, as the report states, that the principle of non-retroactivity was resorted to by the IOR or the AIF – the Vatican Financial Information Authority – as a pretext for avoiding giving information relative to the period before April 2011. Issue solved I would say…”
What do you have to say about the accusations of “non transparency” and even of “corruption” made against the Vatican at the start of the year?
“The Moneyval report disproves the lack of transparency myth. Firstly, assessors affirmed that the Vatican has been very collaborative and cooperative. I believe another myth that has been disproved is the one regarding the accusations of widespread corruption. The report specifically states in paragraph 52 that despite the media’s unfounded accusations of corruption, there is no empirical evidence of acts of corruption taking place in the Vatican.”
How would you define the current situation in the Vatican with regards to anti-money laundering?
“Sometimes certain people try to corroborate the idea that the Vatican is involved in money laundering activities. Firstly, I should clarify that any jurisdiction and financial institution can fall victim to money laundering, but being a victim does not mean you are involved, as is often claimed. Secondly, to find out where the problems really lie, we must look at the real statistics.
In recent months, for example, the news started circulating that the United States classed the Vatican as “potentially vulnerable” to money laundering. Only potentially. This story contributed to giving a rather negative image of the Vatican.
But reading the American report, it is clear that it was not this category that was really relevant to money laundering risk but the countries of “primary concern” category. This includes countries such as Japan, England, Australia and Italy. It is funny how many articles in the press did not compare the result of the Vatican assessment with those of other countries that are held to be far riskier.”
Going back to the Moneyval report, the Vatican seems to have had failed on more points than succeeded. It scored positively on 49% of the required criteria but negatively on the remaining 51%.
“Your observation shows how deceiving statistics can be. The reality is in fact completely different if one looks carefully at the figures. Firstly, the country which achieved the best result only scored seventy five percent in the mostly or completely adequate category. Secondly, attention was not paid to the classification of the scores of other countries which are being assessed. Anyone can consult this data on the Moneyval website.
The Vatican came eleventh out of the thirty countries examined by Moneyval in its third round of assessments and 13th out of thirty in terms of general performance, taking into account the “40+ Recommendations”.
The Vatican actually did better than EU countries in more than one category, for example, in the field of international treaties for combating organised crime. I am not saying this to criticise other countries but to stress that the Vatican should be given due recognition for its achievements.”
Following Moneyval’s assessment, what image do you think the Holy See has given of itself as an institution?
“It is important to note that one of the commonplaces regarding the Holy See is that it needs reinforcement from “external experts”.
But most of the work done to meet international standards and for Moneyval has been carried out by internal resources. One need only think of the hundreds of answers given to the assessors’ questions or the thousands of pages that were translated by people who worked hard but remained anonymous.
External experts can be useful, but without the professionalism of staff in the Curia, the Governorate, the IOR, APSA and the Tribunal, it would not have been possible for the Vatican to obtain the result it did.
The Holy See has proven that it knows how to act in a flexible way and achieve substantial results. It deserves respect and praise for the result it obtained.”