The "misunderstanding" that led to the investigation of the Vatican's bank "could be clarified simply and quickly" by consulting its internal controls. According to the Vatican's semi-official L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) newspaper, no transfer was made without "strict" compliance with the rules in force in Italy.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the Holy See's Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), its president and director general were under investigation by Italian authorities for possible money laundering. Transfer orders were apparently made through an Italian bank without proper observation of the country's current diclosure laws.
In an editorial published on Thursday, the Vatican newspaper defended the transparency of IOR operations.
LOR reported that since the beginning of the year, the "Vatican Bank" and the Bank of Italy have been working closely to adapt their procedures to stricter new laws, which came into effect in 2007 in Italy. As part of compliance efforts, a new financial information office was formed within the IOR under the leadership of Cardinal Attilio Nicora.
Through these measures, the bank, continued the editorial, is in "constant collaboration" with the European Union and other important international economic and financial entities such as the OECD and FATF-GAFI which work to ensure certain standards in the field.
The LOR also explained that the Vatican has submitted documentation for the Holy See's inclusion among anti-money laundering collaboration States and, to achieve full adaptation to accepted norms, a commission also headed by Cardinal Nicora was formed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone.
According to the Vatican newspaper, the Bank of Italy is "well informed" that "(t)he administration of the IOR has long been committed ... to adapting its informational structures to the rules in force (for) the fight against money laundering." The IOR, it was explained, wishes to be "on the same line" as the Italian banks on this theme.
Considering this information, the operations currently under investigation "could be clarified simply and quickly," according to the LOR. The transfers in question, they reported, were only "treasury operations" between IOR accounts at various banks.
IOR president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi explained to the Italian daily, "Il Giornale," on Wednesday that a transfer was made from an IOR account at the Italian bank "Credito Artigiano" to another IOR account at JP Morgan in Germany for the purchase of German bonds.
"The trouble," observes the LOR newsaper, "was caused by a misunderstanding, (which is) in the process of being clarified, between the IOR and the bank that had received the transfer order." The paper expressed "certainty" that nothing was done without "strict observation" of the rules dictated by the Bank of Italy.
A statement from Fr. Federico Lombardi released by the Holy See's Press Office on Thursday, reiterated the LOR's argument, seeking to "clarify matters in order to avoid the spread of inaccurate information and to ensure that no damage is caused to the activities of the Institute or the good name of its managers."