UPDATE 1-Italy-Vatican near deal on financial information sharing -source


By Philip Pullella

(Reuters) – The Vatican and Italy are close to reaching an agreement to share financial and tax information in the aim of cracking down on money-laundering and other illicit behaviour, a senior Vatican official said on Tuesday.

The deal, which the official said could be announced as early as this week, is part of Pope Francis’ efforts to clean up the finances of the Vatican. The official asked not to be named, because he is not authorised to discuss the accord.

The Vatican has long been criticised by international financial organisations for providing a tax haven for well-connected Italians.

In particular, the Vatican bank for decades allowed many Italian citizens to hold bank accounts. That practice, which was in violation of the bank’s mission to manage money for the Church, helped individuals evade taxes and launder cash, Italian law enforcement officials say.

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