Vatican brings in outside firm to investigate financial office
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican has called in an outside company to investigate a department that manages its real estate holdings and financial and stock portfolios following accusations of corruption.
A committee of cardinals took the decision to look into the books and activities of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) as the Vatican tries to clean up the image of its bank, the focus of scandals for decades.
APSA, which has two divisions, manages the Vatican's real estate holdings in Rome and elsewhere in Italy, pays the salaries of Vatican employees, and acts as a purchasing office and human resources department. It also manages the Vatican's financial and stock portfolio.
A Vatican statement said the Promontory Financial Group would carry out a due diligence procedure of both sections, looking into its financial and economic activities and its management procedures.
The same company is helping the Vatican bank comb through its accounts in order to meet international financial standards and eliminate those which could be used for money laundering.
The aim of the procedure, believed to be the first time an outside company has looked into APSA's books, was "to deepen the checks into the financial and management situation at APSA," a statement said.
Since assuming office in March, Pope Francis has taken action to tackle years of financial scandals involving the Vatican bank, which has long been in the spotlight for failing to meet international standards against tax evasion and the disguising of illegal sources of income.
In recent months, sources with knowledge of the situation have said that APSA would also have to go under the microscope because of the large amounts of money it handles and allegations of impropriety. Continued...