The Vatican has appointed a renowned Swiss lawyer to help it meet international standards of financial transparency, after a largely positive report by the European body that monitors such issues.
“The time is ripe, not for a slackening of commitment, but for renewed efforts to respond to the report’s recommendations and ever more efficaciously pursue transparency and financial trustworthiness,” said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi in a Sept. 11 communique.
Attorney Rene Bruelhart, 40, has been recruited by the Vatican as a consultant to “assist the Holy See in strengthening its framework to fight financial crimes,” Fr. Lombardi said.
Bruelhart previously spent eight years as the director of Liechtenstein’s Financial Intelligence Unit. In 2010 he was also appointed as vice-chair of the Egmont Group, the global network of Financial Intelligence Units.
In July the Council of Europe’s Committee of experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism – Moneyval – found the Vatican to be “compliant” or “largely compliant” on nine of the 16 “key and core” recommendations for combating terrorist financing and money-laundering.
“The Holy See has come a long way in a very short period of time and many of the building blocks of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism regime are now formally in place,” concluded the Moneyval report July 18.
“But further important issues still need addressing in order to demonstrate that a fully effective regime has been instituted in practice.”
Among Moneyval’s areas for concern was skepticism over the “workability” of the Vatican’s internal scrutiny body, the Financial Information Authority, which was created in 2010.
The Vatican had invited Moneyval to inspect its financial set up in February 2011 after passing new transparency legislation towards the end of 2010.
Fr. Lomardi said the Vatican’s appointment of Bruelhart was “a powerful sign of its commitment” to working on those areas of financial transparency that require improvement.