Vatican says bank inquiry fueled by a mix-up

By Nicole Winfield
Associated Press / September 23, 2010

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VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said yesterday that the seizure by police of $30 million from a Vatican bank account and the investigation of two top bank officials was due to a simple misunderstanding that should be clarified quickly.

In a front-page article yesterday, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano also provided details about the investigation, saying it began when the Bank of Italy tipped off authorities to a possible violation of antimoney laundering norms by the Vatican bank.

Italian financial police seized the money as a precaution Tuesday, and Rome prosecutors placed the bank’s chairman, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and his director general, Paolo Cipriani, under investigation for alleged mistakes linked to violations of the norms.

L’Osservatore Romano stressed that since the beginning of the year, the Vatican bank — officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion, or IOR — had been working with the Bank of Italy to conform to Italy’s new anti-money laundering norms.

The bank also had supplied documentation in a bid to get on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s so-called white list of banks that cooperate with international norms on money-laundering and terrorism, the newspaper said in an article that was headlined “IOR’s transparency.’’

“It’s easy to realize that the nature and the scope of the operations now under investigation could be clarified quickly and easily,’’ L’Osservatore wrote. “The inconvenience was caused by a misunderstanding, which is being clarified, between the IOR and the bank that received the transfer order.’’ top stories on Twitter

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