Pope Resigns: Did a Money Laundering Scheme Force Benedict XVI to Step Down?


Kiki Van Son

Benedict the XVI is officially no longer pope. While he cited poor health and a demanding schedule as the main reason, this hasn’t stopped competing explanations from entering the fray. While allegations that the pope was involved in some sort of gay cover-up, or is even gay himself, many are overlooking a little-remembered incident that occurred last March, when suspicious financial activity surrounding the Vatican’s account No. 1365, opened in 2009 with JPMorgan Chase, caused the global bank’s branch in Milan to shut it down.

The account was operating as a sweep account, which facilitates an automatic flow of money at the end of each business day from cash accounts to investment accounts, where the money accrues higher interest. The account was primarily being swept to Vatican accounts in Germany. However, an estimated $1.5 billion had been processed in the short amount of time that the account had been opened, according to Italy’s leading financial newspaper II Sole 24 Ore.

Speculation over money-laundering led JPMorgan Chase to question bankers at the Vatican who ultimately failed to provide an explanation. The Vatican has been under scrutiny for its lack of financial transparency since JPMorgan Chase’s decision to close the account, but no further comment has been made by either party.

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