Why a Miscreant like Cardinal Pell is Head of Vatican Finance

By Betty Clermont | 28 February 2016
Daily Kos

Pope Francis’ Finance Czar, Cardinal George Pell.

Prior to being elevated to Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy by Pope Francis, Australian Cardinal George Pell’s previous financial expertise was cheating victims of clerical sex abuse out of an adequate compensation known as his “Melbourne response“ and “Ellis defense” where Pell “instructed his lawyers to crush this victim.”

To understand how Pope Francis was elected to a position to appoint Pell, we need to look at the state of the Vatican’s financial affairs preceding the 2013 conclave in which Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was chosen.

Money Laundering and Moving Money for the Right Wing

For over 70 years, the Vatican has been infamous for money laundering and providing a conduit for funding the global right wing.

“The Vatican Bank was created in 1942 to avoid having financial transactions tracked through Western banks. Because it resided in Vatican City, it was exempt from all wartime restrictions and became ‘the world’s best offshore bank,’” according to Gerald Posner, author of God’s Bankers.

In 1947, the U.S. bishops established the National Catholic Resettlement Council funded by donations from American Catholics. The money was handed over to the Vatican and used to pay for ratlines helping Nazi and Ustaša (Croatian) war criminals escape prosecution (p186). Gold looted from the Yugoslav treasury was placed in the Vatican by the Ustaša fascists (p208) along with gold stolen from Jewish and Serbian victims of Ustaša terror (p217). (Phayer, Pius XII, the Holocaust, and the Cold War)

The Vatican served as a conduit for funding right wing terrorists (pp 46, 47*) during the Cold War. The Vatican’s financial facilities were available to right wing intelligence agencies not only in post-war Italy, Greece and Eastern Europe, but also Southeast Asia and Latin America. (*Sharpley, Stefano Delle Chiaie: Portrait of a Black Terrorist. See also Lernoux, People of God. Loftus and Aarons, Unholy Trinity. Lee, “Their Will be Done” Mother Jones July/August 1983 Issue.)

In the famous Vatican/Banco Ambrosiano scandal of the early 1980s, “allegations centered on moving vast sums of money out of Italy into a large collection of overseas banks.”

Under Pope John Paul II, the Vatican Bank – officially the IOR or Institute for Works of Religion – became “a unique ‘off shore’ corridor for politicians around the world who want to keep their money away from legal controls” and “a land of dark bands of venture capitalists, immoral financiers and organized crime money which circulated through the bank and also, of course, money from the corruption of the Italian political class.”

There were “encrypted bank accounts … especially for politicians, starting with Giulio Andreotti,” the seven-time right wing Italian prime minister who used the IOR as political slush fund.” (Posner, p441)

Nuzzi’s book, Vaticano S.p.A. (2009) showed how the IOR functions as an “off-shore” financial institution for right wing politicians, the Mafia, Italian tax-evaders and other disreputable characters. “The IOR … ensures privileges to be granted in exchange for political backing, legal provisions and business support.” “Huge political bribes were laundered through the IOR.”

Paradiso IOR (2013) by Turco, Pontesilli, Di Battista uncovered “secret funds and connections that the IOR had with politicians and the powerful of the world: a true tax haven which the Vatican will not give up easily” because moving money others wish to keep secret is very lucrative.

The World Changed

“9/11 fuelled the emergence of a financial surveillance system … A Counter Terrorist Financing regime was built up by the United Nations and pre-existing anti-money laundering measures were expanded.” The new regulations are known as anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CFT).

Vatican finances were controlled by Italians close to that country’s financial elites. It was a cozy relationship until Italian authorities began to prosecute Vatican corruption in Italian banks.

In September 2010, Italian magistrates seized 23 million euro from Vatican accounts in two Roman banks. Prosecutors stated the IOR deliberately flouted anti-money-laundering laws “with the aim of hiding the ownership, destination and origin of the capital.”

La Stampa reported in May 2012 that the IOR “now works almost exclusively with Deutsche Bank” after another inquiry by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Rome for breaking anti-money laundering laws, implying that the Germans would be more willing to look the other way than Italian officials.

In October 2012 “the Italian judiciary was looking into suspect money flows noticed in the Vatican Bank’s accounts. [I]nvestigators found that dirty money can also pass through non anonymous accounts belonging to priests or clerics,”  which is how dirty money gets passed around the world. Other “fronts” include Catholic foundations  and charities.

Also in 2012, under pressure from the Bank of Italy, JPMorgan Chase closed its IOR account in Milan. The account was used to “sweep” 1.5 billion euro over an 18 month period into a Frankfurt bank. (And that’s just one Vatican account.) The account was closed because the IOR had failed to provide sufficient information on money transfers.

IOR director Paolo Cipriani and his deputy Massimo Tulli were put under investigation for money laundering. (Cipriano and Tulli and would later resign and be indicted by Roman magistrates.)

The Vatican bank has for decades been the subject of dark intrigue. (Photo: Gabriel Bouys / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images)

On January 1, 2013, the Bank of Italy shut down the ATM machines and credit/debit card services operated by Deutsche Bank Italia inside the Vatican City State because the Vatican did not “fully comply with international standards against tax fraud and money laundering.” Leaving tourists to deal in only cash cost the Vatican an “estimated $40,000 a day.” (Deutsche Bank Italia is an Italian bank under Italian jurisdiction.)

In a January 14 interview, Rene Brulhart, the Swiss director of the AIF (Financial Information Agency, the Vatican’s AML/CFT regulatory agency), stated, “I’m truly surprised by the measures taken by the Bank of Italy.” While the Vatican had “close cooperation” with other countries, “no other country in the world has adopted similar measures,” he said.

In mid-February, the Vatican announced that it hired a consortium in Switzerland – a country which does not belong to the European Union and, therefore, does not have to abide by their financial regulations – as a replacement. The fact that the Vatican chose a Swiss firm to manage financial services inside the Vatican “isn’t a good, transparent sign,” noted a Vatican expert with the Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

An American attorney working in the Vatican had complained a few months earlier: “The IOR has financial relations with more than a hundred countries; it has banking ties with forty of these and has links with financial entities across the European Union. But as far as I can see, only one of these countries treats the Vatican as unequal in terms of anti-money laundering. And that country is Italy.”

Additionally, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), which manages the Vatican’s investment and commercial property portfolios, “has accounts and deposits of its own in central banks all over the world: the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Deutsche Bundesbank, the Bank of Italy, the Bank for International Settlements, ‘and others.’” APSA owns shares of oil and chemical companies, such as Exxon and Dow Chemical. APSA also deals in currencies, bullion and gold coins with Switzerland and England.

Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, an APSA accountant, was arrested in June 2013 for using his IOR accounts “as a front for suspicious payments made through the Vatican Bank from Monaco [and] to make transfers on behalf of his friends including an attempt to move 20 million euro on behalf of a Neapolitan shipowning family.”

Scarano testified that APSA kept accounts for non-clerical customers although prohibited, acting as a “parallel bank” and dealing in speculative investments. APSA could provide its customers with investments both “safe and quiet.” “‘We were a bank in a dirty way,’ he told prosecutors. APSA relied on a number of private banks, mainly headquartered in the U.S., to operate on the market, Scarano said.”

There are 134 additional Vatican departments which also have their own budgets and bank accounts.

There are 2,660 dioceses around the world; most have the capacity to handle hidden funds. Western countries, under the principle of separation of church and state, do not require religious organizations to make financial disclosures. The Vatican also has concordats, or treaties, with over 200 countries which “can ensure that the finances of the Church are kept secret.”

American bishops control approximately 40,000 affiliated organizations which are not required to make financial disclosures either.

The Vatican has a banking division in the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands were removed from their geographical diocese of Kingston, Jamaica, and put under control of the Detroit archdiocese. The Turks and Caicos, were removed from their geographical diocese of Nassau, Bahamas, and placed under the Newark archdiocese.

The cornerstone product offered by every offshore haven is a legal system that protects against unwanted and unauthorized disclosure of financial matters. Bank secrecy means that, by law, bank employees are prohibited from revealing information concerning a customer’s account. This prohibition is buttressed by criminal sanctions including fines and imprisonment.

The 2013 Conclave

The plutocracy needed to wrest control of Vatican financial systems away from Italians in order to protect their secret conduits. The two largest financial centers are Wall Street and London; American and Commonwealth cardinals joined forces to elect the next pope.

Only the U.S. cardinals “brought their episcopal conference’s communication team all the way to Rome to assist the platoon of cardinals called to elect the new pope. [A]fter less than an hour had passed since Benedict’s departure for Castel Gandolfo, before the sede vacante period had even started,” American cardinals had made themselves available to the media.

The Americans launched an anti-Italian campaign to defeat Angelo Scola, the choice of the Italian cardinals for pope. (Italians are the largest national bloc in the College of Cardinals.)

Americans charged that Italians in the Curia couldn’t be trusted to keep secrets. In describing two pre-conclave news items in the Italian press, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, press director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), managed to use the word “leaks” four times in one paragraph. “Italy is a land of leaks,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

A panoramic view of St. Peter's Basilica as cardinals gathered at the Vatican to choose a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. (Tizizna Fabi / AFP / Getty Images)
A panoramic view of St. Peter’s Basilica as cardinals gathered at the Vatican to choose a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. (Tizizna Fabi / AFP / Getty Images)

John Thavis, former Vatican bureau chief for the USCCB news service, accused “Italian bankers who were less than honest” of abusing the Vatican Bank. He said most of the IOR’s “murky dealings involved Italians who have, sort of, an Italian way of doing things in the Vatican.”

The influential U.S. theocon, George Weigel, told the press, “The curia is still deeply influenced by Italianate work habits and that’s problematic. If you look at the rest of this society, it doesn’t happen to be functioning very well,” he opined about the third largest economy in eurozone.

The Commonwealth was represented by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor who “helped orchestrate a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign which led to the election of Pope Francis,” according to Austin Ivereigh who had been Murphy-O’Connor’s director of public affairs. (Ivereigh was “credited with boosting the cardinal’s public image, which had been damaged by controversies over his dealings with pedophile priests.”)

Murphy-O’Connor is archbishop emeritus of Westminster, center of British government, with “contacts and friendships with members of the royal family, archbishops of Canterbury, politicians and some of the larger personalities of his era.”

“Murphy-O’Connor’s role included lobbying his North American counterparts as well as acting as a link for those from Commonwealth countries.” A group of cardinals known as “Team Beroglio” led by the British prelate, “toured private dinners and other gatherings of cardinals in the days before the conclave, quietly putting their case” for Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio because “the appetite for reform in the Vatican and a pope without links to the establishment, widely seen as corrupt and riddled with in-fighting, had become intense.”

Private dinners are “regarded as the conclave within the conclave, an ostensibly casual setting that serves in fact as a high-stakes testing ground for candidacies. [S]ome of the most powerful churchmen in the English-speaking world” dined together on at least one occasion: Murphy-O’Connor, Timothy Dolan of New York, Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston (center of the U.S. petrochemical industry), George Pell of Sydney and Thomas Collins of Toronto.

Cardinal Dolan, the prelate of Wall Street, can count on the likes of “billionaire investor” Ken Langone, Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan, First Data Corp. CEO Frank Bisignano and John Studzinski, a vice chairman at private-equity firm Blackstone Group LP, to contribute to the restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The article also mentioned Peter Forlenza, Jefferies Group LLC’s global head of equities, and David Komansky, former Merrill Lynch & Co. CEO, “who got to know Church leaders because the Vatican worked with his firm,” and other financial executives who were “embracing Pope Francis’ arrival in New York.”

In opposing Obamacare, Dolan spoke against a sitting president by name and implied Obama was “anti-American.” In contrast, no U.S. prelate criticized Donald Trump for saying Pope Francis should stay out of U.S. politics and was “disgraceful” for questioning his faith. (The pope had said that building a wall to keep out immigrants was unchristian.)

Dolan discussed leadership of the Catholic Church on the Goldman Sachs You Tube channel moderated by Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman CEO Goldman Sachs.

Dolan addressed the conference, “The Islamic State’s Religious Cleansing and the Urgency of a Strategic Response” sponsored by the Hudson Institute. Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, is senior vice president. The institute is funded by “many of the foundations and corporations that have bankrolled the conservative movement,” and some of the trustees, staff and fellows are the men who took us to war in Iraq. (A tip of the hat to Catholic blogger, Gerald Slevins, for this information as well as Dolan’s connection to Goldman Sachs.)

Cardinal Dolan, Manhattan’s largest landowner.

Cardinal George Pell, who attended Oxford, has been “close to” Australia’s right wing former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. Pell has also been described as Abbot’s “spiritual adviser” and “Abbott’s Thomas Wolsey, scheming, power-mad, and cares not at all for the victims of the Catholic Church.”

Abbott’s Attorney-General Senator George Brandis QC “secretly met” with Pell in May 2015, inappropriate considering the cardinal’s legal problems.

All Connected

In January 2016, Abbott flew to the U.S. to give a speech to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the “world-wide exporter of their own brand of hate” towards gays and “prominent in the religious right movement for its work seeking to criminalize sodomy internationally.”

Pope Francis had invited Alan Sears, founding president of the Alliance Defending Freedom, to attend a Vatican conference on the “complementarity of man and woman in marriage” in November 2014 where the pope gave the opening address.

“Sears is a regular conservative voice on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News channel.” Pell and Murdoch are two of “three most influential people in Abbott’s political life.”

The week before he was called to Rome by Pope Francis to be one of his principle advisers, Pell attended a “Gala Dinner” to honor Murdoch, founder of News Corp. who “owns or controls print, cable and film outlets in so many places that his cultural and political views are fast becoming a feature of global geography.”

Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp, attended a January 17-18, 2016, conference along with Pope Francis’ secretary of state, foreign minister and president of the Vatican Bank. “The Global Foundation conference discussed a new governance model for the world economy.” Pell was the headliner. “If we are to truly mobilize the global economy in a sustainable fashion, it will require business, not regulators, to take a leading role,” Pell told the assembled business leaders.

Why Bergoglio?

U.S. Vatican reporter, John Allen Jr.: “English-speaking cardinals are highly attentive to business management … Heading into the 2013 conclave, it’s beginning to look like they may lead a ‘governance bloc.’ … That note was struck by Cardinal George Pell [who] told reporters that ‘it is clear that significant reforms are needed within the Vatican bureaucracy,’ and added that the next pope needs to have better ‘management skills.’”

“Several American cardinals supported the idea of a Latin American, reflecting the mushrooming Hispanic footprint in the Church in the United States. Latinos now represent almost a third of the 67 million Catholics in America, and several American cardinals had dropped hints in the run-up to the conclave that a Spanish-speaking pope would be no bad thing,” especially when the U.S. episcopate was expected to increase the GOP vote among this demographic.

Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been selected as auxiliary bishop and promoted up the ecclesial career ladder to cardinal primate by the last superstar pope, John Paul II, because he shared his hostility to liberation theology and progressive government.

“Bergoglio’s approach [to the poor] fits with the Church’s attitude for centuries, to give ‘charity’ to the poor while doing little to change their cruel circumstances.”

As cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio was “a strong opponent of the left-leaning administrations of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner. Many progressive Catholics in the United States seem to be pleasantly surprised by the pick and happy with Bergoglio’s social justice overtures. Latin Americans, on the other hand, have expressed horror at the role of the Argentine Church during the military junta’s rule and at Bergoglio’s place within that history.”

When the government introduced legislation approving same-sex marriage in 2010, Bergoglio declared same-sex marriage to be a “regression” for humankind and a “move of the Father of Lies (Satan).”

In 2012, when the administration “pushed for mandatory sex education in schools, free distribution of contraceptives in public hospitals, and the right for transsexuals to change their official identities on demand,” Bergoglio sounded just like his American confreres, accusing the president of “demagoguery, totalitarianism, corruption and efforts to secure unlimited power.”

Bergoglio’s record with pedophile priests was devastating for victims.

One of Latin America’s leading theologians referred to Bergoglio’s election as  the Vatican “positioning their pieces in the world game of chess in order to empower political projects championed by the North and its allies in the South.”

Some Latin American Jesuits “say quietly that Bergoglio, despite being a Jesuit, is closer ideologically to Opus Dei.” Opus Dei is a secret society of global financiers, bankers, businessmen, politicians and their supporters. (See also Hutchison, Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei)

The head of the Opus Dei, bishop Javier Echevarria (C) arrives at the Clementina Hall to exchange Christmas greetings with Pope Francis on December 21, 2013 in Vatican City.

George Weigel, head of one of the first neocon think-tanks, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told Chris Matthews the day Bergoglio became pope:

I spent an hour talking [vetting?] with Cardinal Bergoglio in Buenos Aires last May … The thing that needs to be said here. This is a man very much formed by the pontificate of John Paul II, who loved him to pieces. And I think we’re going to see a little bit more of that in this pontificate as it goes forward …

I would not jump to any conclusions about his politics. He’s been very critical of the Kirchner government in Argentina. He is also a Jesuit who is something of a contradiction within the Jesuit order. [Because Jesuits vow to “never strive for any ambition or prelacy or dignity outside the Society, nor consent to my election to such, so far as I am able, unless I be compelled by obedience to one who has power to command me under pain of sin.”]

He was a man of what I would call dynamic orthodoxy.”

(Another hat tip to Gerald Slevin for the Matthews interview)

After Bergoglio’s election

Pope Francis “understood that essential to any reform is the de-Italianization” of the Curia, “especially on the financial front,” noted John Allen, Jr.

A “clerical VIP circle” of “individuals within the Vatican as well as politicians and financial raiders who flirted together” similar to that which existed under John Paul II was reestablished under Pope Francis. Now there are “huge multinational corporations and international lobbies anxious to keep their hands inside the Vatican,” wrote an Italian Vatican expert.

Pope Francis hired McKinsey & Co., Promontory Financial Group, KPMG, Ernst&Young and Deloitte to advise, consult and audit his financial institutions. “At one stage, an Italian writer jokingly suggested relocating the Vatican from Rome to New York to save all those doyens of profit the commute.”

(Those who have read my previous blogs may skip the next portion as I’ve repeated the following information often enough. For any new readers, the citations for this portion can be found hereherehere and here.)

McKinsey & Co.: Prepared a questionable report on Obamacare which became a useful tool for its critics. Other reports include convincing arguments of why CEOs are justified in layoffs and why they should increase their own pay.

Promontory Financial Group: In August 2015, Promontory paid a $15 million penalty to New York’s financial regulators for lacking independence in its actions on behalf of a big British bank. In the past, Promontory’s actions have focused on the adept circumvention of regulations for its clients.

Ernst & Young: Agreed to pay $99 million to Lehman Brothers investors who accused the auditor of helping Lehman misstate its financial records before the investment bank’s collapse which triggered a financial crisis in 2008.

KPMG: Conducted due diligence work on Hewlett Packard’s $11.1 billion acquisition of the British software company Autonomy. In 2012 HP announced an $8.8 billion write off due to serious accounting improprieties committed by Autonomy management prior to the acquisition.

Deloitte: Worked on a statewide case management system for the California Judicial Council which originally had a budget of around $260 million but ended up costing almost $500 million before the project was terminated in 2012. In 2014, Booz Allen Hamilton sued Deloitte claiming the firm stole proprietary information in order to “lift out” a specialized team of Booz employees.

Opus Dei has been well represented in Bergoglio’s Vatican in which there is a new leading role for Banco Santander. Grupo Santander is owned by Spain’s Botin family (Opus Dei). Banco Santander was accused of gouging U.S. consumers. In 2014, Banco Santander was under scrutiny by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs for sub-prime auto loans. Vulnerable borrowers paid steep rates for the loans.

Banco Santander

There are now also many officials from the Commonwealth: London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada and Malta.

Vatican departments in descending order of power are secretariats, congregations, councils, commissions, “offices,” and then others such as foundations etc. When Bergoglio ascended the Throne of St. Peter, there was only one secretariat – of State, the Vatican’s foreign affairs department. When Pope Francis announced he was creating a new “secretariat” for his finances with Pell as prefect, “he praised Cardinal Pell for stepping down from being Primate of the Australian Catholic Church to become a banker.” Many recalled that the last time an Anglo was put in charge of Vatican finance – the American Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, also not a banker, by John Paul II  – the Church suffered the largest financial scandal in its history.

Pope Francis also created a Secretariat for Communications, just so you know his priorities since these are the only two changes made so far in the Curia. Lord Christopher Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, was in charge of restructuring the Vatican’s media operations.

As head of the Secretariat of the Economy, Pell was given “oversight of all economic and administrative activities within the Holy See and the Vatican City State” and “will be responsible for all financial planning as well as staffing, and will prepare detailed financial statements of the Holy See and Vatican State,” according to the AP.

APSA: Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne, with a doctorate from Opus Dei’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, to oversee APSA.

Two “consultors” for APSA have been confirmed:

  • Peter Sutherland was director of the Royal Bank of Scotland, managing director and chairman of Goldman Sachs International, former chairman of BP Oil, European chairman of the Trilateral Commission and on the steering committee for the Bilderberg Conference. While Sutherland hasn’t admitted Opus Dei membership, he served on the International Advisory Board of IESE, the graduate business school of Opus Dei’s flagship University of Navarra.
  • Robert McCann, chief executive of UBS America. In May 2015, JPMorgan Chase & Co, UBS AG and Royal Bank of Scotland “were accused by U.S. and UK officials of brazenly cheating clients to boost their own profits”

The newly formed Council for the Economy is an advisory body to the Secretariat of the Economy. Joseph FX Zahra (Malta) is vice-coordinator. Zahra is currently chairman of Middlesea Insurance Co Ltd. MAPFRE, the leading insurance company in Spain and the largest non-life insurance company in Latin America, owns a controlling interest in Middlesea and is referred to in the insurance market as a branch of Opus Dei. Zahra and Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, the new president of the IOR, are reported as Pell’s “two right-hand men,” “allies” or having “ties” to Pell.

Council for the Economy members include:

  • George Yeo was a former finance minister of Singapore and a Brigadier-General in the Singapore Armed Forces. He graduated from Christ’s College, University of Cambridge. He is a member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, on the advisory board of Harvard Business School and the International Advisory Board of Opus Dei’s IESE. He is a member of the Hong Kong Economic Development Commission and was awarded the Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia.
  • Hong Kong Cardinal Tong Hon is the head of Opus Dei in the East.
  • John F. Kyle retired in 2008 as vice president and treasurer of Imperial Oil Ltd., Exxon Mobil’s Canadian subsidiary.
  • Enrique Llano Cueto began his career at Deloitte, was a lead partner of KPMG.
  • Jochen Messemer is a former partner of McKinsey & Co.
  • Brian E. Ferme, who holds a doctorate from Oxford, was appointed prelate secretary of the Council for the Economy by his “strong backer,” Cardinal Pell. His background includes the financial management of the now-closed Marcianum, a center of international studies whose faculty was assimilated in Opus Dei’s Pontifical Holy Cross University based in Rome.

IOR president is the Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, former CEO of Invesco’s European operations. De Franssu’s son, Louis-Victor Douville de Franssu, is now working for Promontory but was an intern in the government-affairs division of Goldman Sachs in London.

The IOR Board of Superintendence co-supervises the bank along with a Commission of Cardinals. The new members are:

  • Mauricio Larrain, director of Santander Bank Group Chile and general director of Opus Dei’s ESE Business School at Los Andes University of Chile.
  • Clemens Boersig, ex-chairman of Deutsche Bank, who along with four other bank executives is being tried for fraud in Germany. Deutsche Bank was fined $2.5bn by U.S. and UK regulators for trying to manipulate interest rates. It is a record penalty for such misconduct because Deutsche tried to mislead regulators.
  • Mary Ann Glendon has been a member of the board of too many right wing organizations to list. She was George W. Bush’s ambassador to the Vatican. Regarding today’s Oscars, Glendon said in 2012, “[I]f fairness and accuracy have anything to do with it, awarding the Pulitzer Prize to the Boston Globe would be like giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Osama bin Laden.”
  • Sir Michael Hintze, former Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse executive,  is an Australian-born hedge fund billionaire. “As Europe descends into an austerity-induced economic crisis, Goldman Sachs’ people are managing the demise of the continent.”

Pope Francis created the position of Auditor General with the power to conduct audits of any Vatican agency at any time. He appointed Libero Milone who was CEO of Deloitte of Italy. No results yet.

AIF is the regulator overseeing the Vatican’s financial institutions. The four new board members are:

  • Juan Carlos Zarate, George W. Bush’s Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism.
  • Marc Odendall worked for Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan Chase.
  • Joseph Yuvaraj Pillay, an adviser to the president of Singapore.
  • Maria Bianca Farina, an Italian specializing in insurance.

On Dec. 15, 2015, an independent group of European financial experts said they wanted to see “some real results” in terms of indictments and prosecutions at the Vatican.

While 11 million euro ($12 million) has been frozen, and 29 money laundering investigations launched, no one has been prosecuted or indeed indicted by Vatican authorities for money laundering …

In the majority of these cases, investigations are under way in other jurisdictions because they largely involve “offenses committed abroad by non-Vatican citizens,” the report stated….

The alleged offenses include fraud, tax evasion, corruption, bankruptcy, insider trading, and market manipulation.

On April 8, 2015, it was reported that the magistrates in Rome “are expressing their dissatisfaction” that no work was being done by the IOR to counter money laundering.

On Nov. 4, 2015, the newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported

The existence of accounts, numbering at least a hundred, and mostly encrypted in order to conceal the names of the people who opened and used them, was confirmed by the new senior management of the IOR, who however stressed that the accounts in question would soon be closed. [The Vatican had earlier stated that this was already done.]

The account holders are in fact lay people, while the IOR’s bylaws prohibit the bank from having customers outside the Church. Various deposit accounts, including those used for the transit of illicit proceeds, as documented by Italian judicial inquiries, are still operational.

Some have commented on my previous blogs that Pope Francis had to hire professional financiers to manage his 15-17 billion euro treasury. But when the phrase “cleaning up” the Vatican is endlessly repeated to describe this pope’s actions, forensic accountants working for Interpol or the FBI or one of the regulatory agencies could have been hired to actually sanitize the Augean Stables of Vatican money.

Additionally, this pope is the first to choose the name “Francis” because he wanted  “a poor Church for the poor.” While he has exhorted others on numerous occasions to give more to charity, of the 378 million euro given to the pope in 2013 specifically for charity, his chief of staff, Archbishop Becciu, confirmed only 20% is actually used for that purpose. Hiring experts in large international charities, NGOs or non-profits might have managed this better.

The Next Conclave 

“I have the feeling that my pontificate will be brief … four or five years. I don’t know, even two or three,” Pope Francis said close to the second anniversary of his election.

We can be sure that powerful cardinals like Pell and Dolan are already maneuvering to control the next conclave. Usually the truth does not emerge for years, but it will be interesting nonetheless to follow the next pre-conclave news to see how factions line up and what issues are deemed critical.

Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009).

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