The report zeros in on activity by chairman the activity of Giampietro Nattino, chairman of Banca Finnat Euroamerica S.p.A, a family-run private Italian bank.
Vatican financial investigators suspect a department of the Holy See which oversees real estate and investments was used in the past for possible money laundering, insider trading and market manipulation, according to a report seen by Reuters.
The information in the confidential document, which covers the period from 2000 to 2011, has been passed on to Italian and Swiss investigators for their checks because some activity tied to the accounts allegedly took place in these countries, a senior Vatican source said.
While most of the media focus of the Vatican’s murky finances has for decades centered on its official bank, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), a department called the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), acted as its own financial powerhouse.
APSA, a sort of general accounting office, manages the Vatican’s real estate holdings in Rome and elsewhere in Italy, pays salaries of Vatican employees, and acts as a purchasing office and human resources department.
One of its two divisions also manages the Vatican’s financial and stock portfolio. The 33-page report suspects this division was used by an outsider for non-Vatican business, with possible complicity of APSA staff, in violation of its own regulations.
The internal investigation is part of a drive by Pope Francis to give Vatican financial authorities free rein to dig deep, over-ruling some cardinals who would prefer to forget the past now that the Vatican has enacted major reforms and instituted controls to thwart irregular practices.
Under Francis, the Vatican has overhauled its scandal-plagued bank, given more power to its Financial Intelligence Authority, appointed its first auditor-general and set up a new ministry to oversee economic activities of all departments, which previously ran their budgets with little or no control.
It is not clear whether this will be enough to bring full financial transparency to the traditionally secretive Vatican.
The report by Vatican financial investigators zeroes in on the activity of Giampietro Nattino, chairman of Banca Finnat Euroamerica S.p.A, a family-run private Italian bank.
Vatican investigators suspect Nattino used the APSA accounts for personal trades on the Italian stock market, the report says, adding that the balance of more than 2 million euros was moved to Switzerland when the accounts were closed days before the Vatican introduced stricter new laws against money laundering that put money transfers under more scrutiny.
From May 22, 2000 to March 29, 2011 Nattino, who has served on the board of many Italian firms and volunteered as an usher in the papal palace, was the owner of APSA “Portfolio 339”, which consisted of four separate accounts, the report says.
The report speaks of the “dubious origin and dubious final destination of the funds in the closing of portfolio 339” and asks why Nattino was allowed to have accounts at APSA in the first place in apparent violation of department regulations.