Rome's attorney general has released 23 million Euro (over $33 million) in assets belonging to the Institute for Religious Works, also known as the Vatican bank.
The money was frozen after an anti-money laundering investigation was launched against the president of the bank Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and the general director of the Institute, Paolo Cipriani.
The Institute for Religious Works is under the auspices of the Vatican.
L'Osservatore Romano reported that the decision to release the funds – which were seized on Sept. 17, 2010 – was made after lawyers for the two men filed a petition to have the assets unfrozen.
Roman officials said investigations carried out between Dec. 19 and May 20 confirmed that changes had been made in the bank's policy, which allowed for a re-evaluation and release of the confiscated money.
On Sept. 21, 2010, the Vatican State Secretariat expressed “shock and bewilderment” over the investigation launched by prosecutors in Rome, and expressed support for the work of Italian economist Gotti Tedeschi. It issued a statement saying the Vatican has always shown “absolute transparency regarding the financial operations of the Institute for Religious Works.”
At the time Tedeschi denounced the attorney general of Rome for taking advantage of procedural error as “an excuse to attack the Institute, its president and the Vatican in general.”
He told the Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore that the transactions which he was being investigated for were “normal transactions that involved transfers from one set of bank accounts to another at the same Vatican bank.”