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Pope Francis Appoints New Board for Vatican’s Financial Watchdog (1388)

The appointments mark a new step in the path toward financial transparency and strengthening the international profile of the authority.

06/05/2014 Comment
Daniel Ibanez/CNA

The dome of St. Peter's Basilica

– Daniel Ibanez/CNA

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has appointed a new board for the Authority for Financial Information, marking a new step in the path toward financial transparency and strengthening the international profile of the authority.

The new members are: Marc Odendall, a financial consultant in the philanthropic sector, from Switzerland; Joseph Yuvaraj Pillay, president of the Council of Consultors advising the president of Singapore; Juan Zarate, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a Harvard professor of law; and the Italian Maria Bianca Farina, managing director of the Italian insurance companies Poste Vita and Poste Assicurazioni.

The Pope had already appointed a new president of the authority Jan. 30, in the person of Bishop Giorgio Corbellini.

Bishop Corbellini replaced the first president of the authority, Cardinal Attilio Nicora, who resigned due to having reached the age limit.

With today’s decision, Pope Francis completely replaced the board of the authority, whose members have been the same since its establishment in 2010.

The former members of the authority are: Marcello Condemi, one of the writers of the first Vatican anti-money-laundering law; Giuseppe Dalla Torre, who is also president of the Vatican Court; Cesare Testa; Claudio Bianchi; and Francesco De Pasquale, a law expert who served as director of the authority since its establishment until 2012 and was then elevated to the rank of board member when René Bruelhart was appointed to take over the post of director.

According to the press bulletin released by the Holy See June 5, the Pope thanked the former members of the board for their work.

Together with the appointment of the new members of the board, the Holy See Press Office released the appointment of Tommaso Di Ruzza as interim deputy director of the authority.

Di Ruzza has been serving as Holy See legal officer since 2005, and in that capacity, he joined the AIF in 2011. He made an important contribution in drawing on the reforms of the anti-money-laundering law, which was first amended and substantially rewritten in 2012 and then replaced and surpassed by a new law issued in October 2013.

 

Conforms With Moneyval

The reforms conformed with the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s Moneyval committee, both in an extensive and generally positive evaluation report issued in July 2012 and in a progress report issued in December 2013.

By appointing the new members of the board, Pope Francis is strengthening the international profile of the Authority for Financial Information.

The new members complete the renewal of the board begun after the new statutes of the Authority for Financial Information were released though a motu proprio released Nov. 15, 2013.

The AIF's new statutes established an office for prudential supervision, strengthened the powers of the body, and clearly outlined the task of its board of directors, which is described as a body which delineates the strategic goals of the authority.

The new statutes also created the post of the deputy director, which had been vacant until Di Ruzza's appointment today.

The AIF has strengthened its international framework under the direction of Bruelhart; he has signed some 20 memoranda of understanding with corresponding authorities, the most important being those of the U.S., Germany and Italy.

In July 2013, the Vatican’s financial watchdog joined the Egmont Group, an “umbrella” organization that gathers financial intelligence units from all over the world.

The AIF’s international commitment was part of the Vatican’s effort to tailor a transparent financial system that would at the same time meet international standards.

After the issue of the new statutes, Pope Francis gave the AIF a new board, thus marking the new course of the authority.

It is yet to be seen how the authority will be included in the Curial reform begun by Pope Francis.

There will be the need to balance the AIF’s need for independence with the purposes of the recently established Secretariat for the Economy and at the same time to outline how the economy secretariat will work along with the Secretariat of State, a specialist in Vatican financial matters told CNA June 4.

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