By Devin Watkins
“The path we are walking upon has become a well-paved and well-regulated one.”
At a press conference on Tuesday, René Brülhart, President of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, or AIF, presented the annual financial report for 2018 with those remarks.
He said the Vatican has made several significant achievements regarding financial transparency, including the implementation of a regulatory framework and an improved reporting system.
Countering money laundering
The AIF carries out a two-fold function of supervisory authority and financial intelligence within the Holy See.
A General Risk Assessment for 2018 assessed a “low-medium level of risk” for money-laundering and a “low level of risk” for financing of terrorism, according to the annual report.
It also notes that 11 reports were sent to the Vatican’s Office of the Promoter of Justice for further investigation. One of these instances resulted in the first conviction for self-laundering, pronounced by the Tribunal of the Vatican City State.
Fifty-six reports of suspicious activity were filed, a decline compared to 2017 when 150 such reports were filed. In addition, the AIF exchanged information 488 times with its counterparts in foreign jurisdictions.
Improved international transparency
The Director of the AIF, Tommaso Di Ruzza, said international cooperation is an important part of the Authority’s work.
In 2018, the Vatican completed the process of adhering to the Single Euro Payments Area, or SEPA.
The move is step in the direction of financial transparency, according to Mr. Brülhart. “The concrete impact of that is that there is even more transparency on payments. It’s faster but it’s also cheaper,” he said.
The Vatican also registered its own SWIFT code (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), making its banking system more visible in the area of financial services.