Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pope Francis launches inquiry into the Vatican bank in wake of corruption and money laundering scandals

  • Comes as Vatican official placed under investigation for money laundering
  • Previous leaks revealed dysfunction, turf wars and alleged corruption
  • The Vatican bank's workings have long been shrouded in secrecy

Pope Francis in St Peter's square today: He has announced a probe into the activities of the highly secretive and scandal-tainted Vatican BankPope Francis ordered an inquiry into the activities of the Vatican bank today, after fresh accusations of corruption and continued questions about its secrecy.

Francis named a commission to investigate the bank's legal structure and activities 'to allow for a better harmonization with the universal mission of the Apostolic See,' according to the legal document that created it.

The announcement came after prosecutors in Salerno placed senior Vatican official Monsignor Nunzio Scarano under investigation for alleged money-laundering. 

Scarano has said he did nothing wrong, though in an interview with the local daily, La Citta di Salerno, he acknowledged he received bad advice from his accountant. 

The five-member commission includes two Americans: Monsignor Peter Wells, a top official in the Vatican secretariat of state, and Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See and current president of a pontifical academy. 

American cardinals were among the most vocal in demanding a wholesale reform of the Vatican bureaucracy - and the Vatican bank - in the meetings running up to the March conclave that elected Francis pope. 

The demands were raised following revelations in leaked documents last year that told of dysfunction, petty turf wars and allegations of corruption in the Holy See's governance. 

It was the second time in as many weeks that Francis has intervened to get information out of the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR.