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Pope Meets with Head of Under-Fire Vatican Bank: Report

AFP
September 26, 2010

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jvk-LPovSQ_2lo29wK1vFk8Wrlvg

Pope Benedict XVI waves to pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence of Castelgandolfo

ROME Pope Benedict XVI met Sunday with the head of the Vatican bank in a show of support for the banker despite Italian authorities investigating him as part of a money laundering probe, ANSA news agency reported.

The pope received bank president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and his wife at his Castel Gandolfo residence outside Rome, the news agency said.

"It is an obvious sign of his respect and confidence. The meeting in front of numerous witnesses publicly demonstrated in a clear manner the pope's closeness and support to the banker chosen to lead the IOR towards complete transparency," ANSA quoted a Vatican source as saying.

The bank is officially known as the Office for Religious Works (IOR).

Gotti Tedeschi has been accused of violating laws put in place in 2007 that have tightened rules on disclosure of financial operations to the Italian central bank in a bid to stamp out money laundering.

The investigation was launched after the financial intelligence office at the Bank of Italy noticed two IOR operations it deemed suspicious.

The first one was a transfer of 20 million euros to JP Morgan Frankfurt, while the other was a three-million-euro transfer to Italian bank, Banca del Fucino, Italian media reported.

Gotti Tedeschi, whose appointment in 2009 was greeted as a move towards greater transparency at the bank implicated in a major scandal in the 1980s, has said he was "profoundly humiliated and mortified" by the probe opened Tuesday.

The bank's chief executive Paolo Cipriani is also under investigation.


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