Italian police seize $30M from Vatican in probe

By Nicole Winfield|AP

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican said Wednesday the seizure by police of euro23 million ($30 million) from a Vatican bank account and the investigation of two top bank officials was due to a simple misunderstanding that should be clarified quickly.

In a front-page article Wednesday, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano also provided details about the investigation, saying it began when the Bank of Italy tipped off authorities to a possible violation of anti-money laundering norms by the Vatican bank.

Italian financial police seized the money as a precaution Tuesday, and Rome prosecutors placed the bank’s chairman, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and his director general, Paolo Cipriani, under investigation for alleged mistakes linked to violations of the norms.

L’Osservatore Romano stressed that since the beginning of the year, the Vatican bank – officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion, or IOR – had been working with the Bank of Italy to conform to Italy’s new anti-money laundering norms.

The bank also had supplied documentation in a bid to get on the OECD’s so-called “white list” of banks that cooperate with international norms on money-laundering and terrorism, the newspaper said in an article headlined “IOR’s transparency.”

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