‘Inexperience’ hampering financial crimes prosecutions

St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican seen from a terrace in Rome (CNS/Paul Haring)

European evaluators have warned that the Vatican’s efforts to investigate and prosecute financial crimes were suffering from understaffing, inexperience, and the mistaken belief that cardinals and bishops were immune to criminal conduct. Source: NCR Online.

The Council of Europe’s Moneyval commission issued a lengthy report into the Holy See’s compliance with international norms to fight money laundering and terrorist financing. Overall, the evaluators gave the Holy See good grades, finding that it was complying with most standards, had taken steps to improve its laws and had achieved effective levels of international cooperation.

But the evaluators complained that Vatican prosecutors had only managed to bring a handful of money laundering cases to trial in the past decade. They said the lengthy time needed to reach both an indictment and conviction showed only a “modest” functioning of the judicial system and warned that the sentences handed down to date were so “minimal” that they provided no deterrent value.

And most critically, the report strongly faulted the Holy See for having ignored the possibility that its own employees might be abusing their offices and the Vatican’s financial system for their own personal gain. They said their evaluation process couldn’t be completed until the Vatican undertakes a “comprehensive assessment” of the risks posed by insiders and enhances its own supervision of staff to detect possible crimes.

The Moneyval evaluation ended before Francis took measures to address one of the major loopholes flagged by the report: that cardinals and bishops have enjoyed near-immunity from prosecution by the lay-led Vatican tribunal.

Francis on April 30 removed the procedural obstacles and made it clear that prosecutors needed only his consent to proceed with investigations against cardinals and bishops.

FULL STORY

Vatican’s financial crimes prosecution hurt by inexperience, say European evaluators (By Nicole Winfield, AP via NCR Online

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