Pope Francis sacks entire board of Vatican's financial watchdog

Experts from Switzerland, Singapore, the United States and Italy to replace all-Italian group

Rome

Pope Francis’s battle to clean up the Vatican’s scandal-mired bank, the Institute of Religious Works (IoR), has entered a new stage, with his removal of the entire board of the Holy City’s financial watchdog.

The five Italians heading the Financial Information Authority (AIF) have been replaced with an international group of experts, including a woman, two years before they were supposed to step down. Vatican insiders say the drastic move followed clashes between the board members, who formed part of the old boys’ network and the body’s Swiss director, René Brülhart, an anti-money laundering expert, who remains in charge.

“Brülhart wanted a board he could work with and it seems the Pope has come down on his side and sent the old-boy network packing,” a Vatican source told Reuters. The Vatican said in a statement that Pope Francis had thanked the “illustrious” former members. Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the changes were in line with the agency’s “internationalisation” and were in response to the requirements of a new statute introduced last year.

The new board members are Juan Zarate, a Harvard law professor and former US presidential financial security adviser; Marc Odendall, a financial consultant to Swiss charities; Joseph Yuvaraj Pillay, the former head of the Monetary Authority of Singapore; and Maria Bianca Farina, the head of two Italian insurance companies.

According to the Catholic weekly, The Tablet, reformist members of the Curia had urged the Pope to bring in professionals with a global perspective who would back Mr Brülhart’s efforts to modernise the IoR, following years in which the institution had dragged its heels on complying with international standards on financial transparency.

Among the recent scandals, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a former senior Vatican accountant who had close ties to the IoR, is currently on trial accused of plotting to smuggle millions of dollars into Italy from Switzerland in order to help rich friends lower their tax bills. Investigators believe he used his two IoR accounts as overseas slush funds. Records show that on one occasion in 2012 he withdrew €560,000 (£455,000) from an IoR account in a single transaction.

Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli, the IoR’s former director and deputy director, who resigned last July after Msgr Scarano’s arrest, have been ordered to stand trial on charges of violating anti-money laundering norms.

Last July Pope Francis also appointed a separate five-person commission to examine the overall management of the Vatican’s finances. But some critics said that instead of a breath of fresh air, they were Vatican insiders, all of whom had IoR bank accounts. Some of the commission members were reported to have personal connections to Carl Anderson, who is a member of the IoR’s board of directors and head of the wealthy Knights of Columbus, which has been described as the “Catholic masons”.

In June last year, a report was released on a 30-month investigation into the IoR. The document said that high demand for recycling cash, together with the lack of checks and controls by the IoR and the Italian financial institutions it dealt with, made the Vatican bank a money-laundering hot spot. The same month it emerged that the IoR was seeking to close 900 suspicious accounts. According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, four of the suspect accounts were linked to the Vatican embassies in Indonesia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. In a press conference as he was flying back from his trip to the Middle East, the Pope stressed he was committed to bringing “honesty and transparency” to the Holy See’s finances.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker