Following three decades of scandal, the president of the Vatican bank, Ernst von Freyberg, announced Tuesday that by the end of the year, the Vatican Bank would begin publishing its balance sheets online, Ansa reports. Other documents would also be published on the website, and an “international organization” would be set in place to ensure that all transactions were in accordance with Vatican and international standards. The bank is a privately held institute run by an advisory board that reports directly to the Pope.
This announcement comes in the wake of another important decision issued by the Vatican bank earlier in the month when Reuters reported that the bank’s regulator agreed to sign an information-sharing pact with the U.S. agency that tracks suspicious financial transactions.
The bank, also known as the Institute for Works of Religion, is eager to improve its international image and make it onto the international ‘white list’ of banking. While managing money for dioceses and religious institutions, it has come under continuous fire for scandals and reports of money laundering. Since 2010, the bank has taken steps to refurbish its reputation. The Financial Intelligence Authority, the Vatican’s equivalent of “financial intelligence units” became operational in April 2011, and this month, the Vatican decided to take this regulation a step further.
The bank agreed to a partnership with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is a unit within the U.S. Treasury Department that tracks suspicious money flows. Reuters reports that “in an official announcement about the new Memorandum of Understanding, the Vatican said the new agreement was meant to “foster bilateral cooperation in the exchange of financial information” between the United States and the Vatican.”
This agreement, along with the Vatican bank’s new promise to publish its balancing sheets online, demonstrates its commitment to strengthening its financial regulatory system.