Pope Francis appointed Bishop Giorgio Corbellini Jan. 30 as interim president of the Financial Intelligence Authority, the agency charged with acting as “financial watchdog” for Vatican City.
Bishop Corbellini replaces Cardinal Attilio Nicora, who is 76 and requested to retire. Bishop Corbellini is a legal expert and is currently both president of the Labour Office of the Apostolic See and a member of the Disciplinary Commission of the Roman Curia; he will retain both positions.
He had previously served in the third-highest position of the Vatican City State's administrative office.
The president of the Financial Intelligence Authority is appointed by the Roman Pontiff from among “persons of proven reputation, free from any conflict of interest and having recognized professional competence in the legal, economic and financial fields as well as in the subject-matters that fall within the scope of activity of the Authority,” according to its recently-adopted statutes.
Bishop Corbellini knows well the details of the process of financial transparency begun under Benedict XVI. When the Holy See signed a monetary agreement with the European Union in 2009, he served as number three in the Vatican administration; he had been appointed president of the labor office in July of that year.
He also served as undersecretary of the Vatican City administration when the Council of Europe’s Moneyval commission made on on-site visit to the Vatican for a peer-to-peer review in November, 2011, as part of financial oversight.
As a result of the observations of the European evaluators, Vatican financial laws have been overhauled, increasing financial transparency and reducing the risk of money laundering.
New statutes for the Financial Intelligence Authority, issued last November, better align the department with recent Vatican legislation and with international standards. Rather than functioning as a dicastery run by a cardinal with broad powers, it has both a president and a director.
The current director is the Swiss financial expert René Bruelhart, who is assisted by a deputy; both are appointed by the Vatican secretary of state.
Cardinal Nicora had chaired the Authority since its establishment, and was involved in much of the Vatican's early efforts at establishing anti-money laundering legislation.
The selection of Bishop Corbellini to replace the cardinal, in concert with the hiring of two international firms to audit Vatican finances, signals a desire to balance both internal and external influences in the reform of financial transparency at the Holy See.