Vatican continues fight against money laundering
The Vatican Financial Information Authority (AIF) releases its first annual report, showing that the "system is consistently improving". The AIF received six suspicious activity reports last year, up from one the previous year. International cooperation is improving. This year, Moneyval recommendations are set to be implemented.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Vatican continues its policy of rewriting its laws, and boosting internal intelligence and international cooperation against money laundering and financing of terrorism. In fact, various "suspicious activities" were reported to the Vatican Financial Information Authority (Autorità di Informazione Finanziara  or AIF) from internal and external sources, following Vatican efforts to implement recommendations made by Moneywval, this according to AIF Director René Brülhart who today presented the agency's first annual report. Pope Benedict XVI ordered the agency be set in 2010.

The Holy See and the Vatican City "have strengthened their efforts for the prevention and countering of money laundering and financing of terrorism, consistently with internal economic and financial framework and to represent an effective global partner," the report said.

"This has primarily resulted from an act of coherence to a mission at the moral level, so that integrity and stability of economy and finance are not just goals, but means to facilitate the service of the human person and of peoples.

The report, which presents data for 2012, notes that during that year, the AIF ​​ received six "suspicious activity reports", compared to the one the previous year. The activities in question concern the IOR, the Vatican bank, Brülhart said.

Speaking about the bank, the AIF director told reporters, that progress had been made in monitoring its accounts for possible money laundering. He added that results would be made public "in the coming months."

The AIF itself forwarded two Suspicious Activity Reports to the Vatican Promoter of Justice (prosecutor) for further investigation.

"The statistics and trends from 2012 are encouraging and indicates that the system is consistently improving," Brülhart said.

In 2012, AIF also began the systematic screening and analysis of Cash Transaction Reports submitted by the obliged entities.

"In our efforts to tackle actively any potential abuse of the financial system, we initiated a close and constructive interaction with the Secretariat of State, the Gendarmeria, the Promoter of Justice and the institutions under our oversight in order to improve awareness and safety and ensure a coordinated internal cooperation in AML/CFT matters", said Director Brülhart. AML-CFT refers to Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism.

Almost 2,400 declarations of cross-border transportation of cash or bearer securities equal to or greater than 10,000 euros were made last year. They included 598 incoming and 1,782 outgoing declaration. This is a significant increase over 2011 (April) when 658 incoming and 1,894 outgoing declarations were made.

Another important element of the report is the progress made in international cooperation "that builds on the clear commitment of the Holy See to be a credible partner in the international fight against money laundering." In 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Belgium and Spain.

"It will continue to be our policy in 2013 to further strengthening international cooperation by signing several more Memorandum of Understanding with our partners in other relevant countries and jurisdictions," Rene Brülhart said.

The outlook for 2013 should see further strengthening of the AML/CFT system, including the implementation of Moneyval Recommendations through appropriate new or amended legislation and a continuation of the awareness enhancing process across all relevant authorities and institutions.