Vatican Bank Unaware Italian Account Was Frozen, Corriere Says

By Jeffrey Donovan
Business Week
September 24, 2010

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The Vatican Bank was unaware that its account at a Rome bank had been frozen for alleged violation of money-laundering laws when it tried to wire cash from it this month, sparking an Italian probe, Chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi told Corriere della Sera.

The Institute for Religious Works, or IOR as the Vatican Bank is called, would not have requested the transfers from its Credito Artigiano SpA account had it known that the account was blocked, he suggested in an interview published today.

Milan-based Credito Artigiano froze the account on April 18 after the IOR failed to provide data on its client relationships as required by the Bank of Italy and European money-laundering laws, Corriere said on Sept. 22, citing court documents.

Credito Artigiano informed the Bank of Italy on Sept. 14 that the IOR had requested two wire transfers from the account on Sept. 6 for a total of 23 million euros ($31 million), and finance police seized the funds in a “precautionary” move on Sept. 20, the Milan-based daily said.

A Credito Artigiano spokesman was not available to comment when contacted by telephone by Bloomberg News. The Milan-based lender is 70 percent owned by Credito Valtellinese Scarl, whose Chairman Giovanni De Censi is an IOR adviser, according to a spokesman for the bank based in the northern city of Sondrio.

Rome magistrates are probing Gotti Tedeschi, himself an adviser to Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti, and another top IOR executive for allegedly omitting information from the wire transfers in possible violation of money-laundering laws.

The investigation stems from a “misunderstanding,” between the IOR and the bank that received the wire-transfer order, Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said yesterday. The daily said the bank was “clearing up” the issue with authorities.

Gotti Tedeschi, 65, who also teaches financial ethics at Milan’s Catholic University, declined to comment on the probe today in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg News.

--With assistance from Alessandra Migliaccio in Rome. Editors: Andrew Davis, James Hertling

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeffrey Donovan in Rome at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Fraher at


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