Local media reported last month that investigators had been unable to account for around $1.9 million in transfers from the Vatican to Australia, but that $5.4 million had been identified as being used for legitimate expenses, such as travel, wages, and pension payments.
A week before that, on Jan. 13, Australia’s financial crime watchdog said that it had vastly overestimated the Vatican transfers, attributing the miscalculation to a “computer coding error.”
According to The Australian newspaper, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) informed Australia’s Senate that it had discovered the mistake after it launched a “detailed review” of its initial finding that around $1.8 billion had been transferred from the Vatican to Australia in about 47,000 separate transfers since 2014.
Working with the Vatican’s Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF), AUSTRAC found that there were only 362 transfers from the Vatican to Australia between 2014 and 2020, amounting to $7.4 million.
The agency also concluded that over the past six years there were 237 transfers totaling $20.6 million in the other direction: from Australia to the Vatican.
The Vatican issued a statement on Jan. 13 acknowledging AUSTRAC’s error, and stating that the $7.4 million in payments “is attributable, among other things, to a number of contractual obligations and the ordinary management of resources.”