TEXT OF INTERVIEW
STACEY VANEK SMITH: The Vatican is creating a new money-laundering authority for the tiny state of Vatican City.
Our European Correspondent Stephen Beard joins us live now to talk about this. Good morning, Stephen!
STEPHEN BEARD: Hello Stacey.
VANEK SMITH: Stephen, Why is the Pope addressing this question? What triggered this move?
BEARD: You may recall about three months ago a couple of the suspicious transactions came to light at the Vatican Bank. It was trying to transfer some $30 million to accounts in other banks. It was claimed the Vatican had failed to inform the authorities where this money had come from. The Italian tax police got involved, prosecutors seized the $30 million and that investigation is continuing.
VANEK SMITH: What specifically is this new financial watchdog supposed to do?
BEARD: It’s supposed to oversee all the financial dealings of the Vatican, including those of the bank to ensure that they comply fully with all the international rules on money laundering. You know, the OECD compiles a list of jurisdictions that do enforce money laundering rules, and at the moment the Vatican incredibly is not on that list. It is not seen to be taking the problem of money laundering seriously.
VANEK SMITH: Oh wow. Will this agency answer those critics?
BEARD: Perhaps not entirely. Critics of the Vatican say the real problem is lack of transparency. The Vatican Bank is a very substantial organization. It’s believed to hold some $5 billion worth of Church assets and yet it doesn’t publish its accounts. Until it does, say the critics, we can’t be entire confident this bank is totally clean.
VANEK SMITH: Our own Stephen Beard in London, thank you Stephen.
BEARD: OK Stacey.
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