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Italy, Vatican Sign AML Protocol

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

31 July 2013

On July 26, the Vatican's Financial Information Authority (AIF) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Bank of Italy's Financial Information Department formalizing their anti-money laundering (AMT) cooperation and for the exchange of financial information.

"The Holy See and the Vatican City State take international responsibilities concerning AMT and the financing of terrorism very seriously, and Italy is an especially important partner for us," said AIF director Rene Bruelhart. "The MOU is a clear commitment to strengthen our bilateral relationship and will facilitate our joint efforts and fight against money laundering."

The MOU is based on the model prepared by the Egmont Group, the global informal organization of national financial intelligence units (FIUs), and contains clauses on reciprocity, permitted uses of information and confidentiality.

AIF, which is the competent authority of the Holy See/Vatican City State to fight money laundering and financing of terrorism, and was established on December 30, 2010, became a member of the Egmont Group in July this year and, over the last several months, has signed MOUs with the FIUs of the United States, Belgium, Spain, Slovenia and the Netherlands. More are expected to be signed in the course of this year.

The MOU with the Bank of Italy has been completed at a time when the Vatican is attempting to regularize and reform the operations of its bank, the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR).

However, the agreement also follows a period of apparent inactivity since the seizure by the Italian financial police, in September 2010, of deposits from an account held by the IOR with another commercial bank in Rome. It was then indicated that the IOR had failed to identify properly either the depositor or the recipient.

The Bank of Italy would now seem unlikely to lift its current instructions of caution with regard to banking operations with IOR, until MONEYVAL, the Council of Europe's office charged with examining AML and anti-terrorism laws, approves AIF's rules and regulations, and before it sees other proof from its future operation of the Vatican's willingness to cooperate.

TAGS: money-laundering | compliance | tax | tax compliance | Holy See (Vatican City) | law | banking | agreements | memorandum of understanding (MOU) | Italy

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