Vatican’s financial 007 leaves amid fallout from police raid

19 Novembre, 2019, 05:25 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Pope Francis on Monday replaced Rene Bruelhart director of the Financial Information Authority amid continuing fallout from a controversial Vatican police raid on the agency’s offices that jeopardized the Holy See’s international financial reputatio

Francis thanked Rene Bruelhart for his work as president of the Financial Intelligence Authority as his term ended.

"I resigned", Bruelhart told Reuters by phone shortly after the announcement was made.

Pope Francis today replaced the head of the Vatican's financial watchdog agency amid continuing fallout from a controversial Vatican police raid on the agency's offices that jeopardized the Holy See's worldwide financial reputation. His replacement's name will be announced next week.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin last month acknowledged that the deal was not transparent and promised to shed light on it.

A brief Vatican statement said Bruelhart would leave at the end of his mandate on Tuesday and that Pope Francis had taken steps to name a successor, to be would be announced after the pope returns from a trip to Thailand and Japan on November 26.

The AIF board, headed by Bruelhart, has said the regulator did nothing wrong when it looked over the property investment.

Five Vatican employees were suspended immediately after the raids, including AIF director Tommaso di Ruzza.

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The head of the Vatican's financial watchdog agency is leaving his post after a raid by Vatican police on the agency's offices breached the Holy See's global financial obligations and jeopardized its reputation.

Two weeks later, Domenico Giani, the Vatican's longtime security chief and Pope Francis' personal bodyguard, resigned over the leak of a document related to a magistrate's investigation of a real estate deal in London.

The Vatican said Bruelhart's successor would be announced soon in order to "assure continuity".

The Secretariat of State spent about $200 million in 2014 for a minority stake in a complex plan to buy the building in London's Chelsea district and convert it into luxury apartments. He's looking into possible crimes such as embezzlement, abuse of office, fraud, and money laundering, according to people familiar with that document.

In 2018, with London financial and real estate markets still rattled by Britain's decision to leave the European Union, the Secretariat of State bought the rest of the stake and became the outright owner but took on some debt to refinance.

The IOR president, who is close to Francis, and the auditor general's office raised an alarm with Vatican prosecutors alleging the buyout looked suspicious, sparking the October 1 raids.

Bruelhart's departure, coupled with the continued suspension of the AIF's director di Ruzza, means that the AIF is without a leader going into a crucial period ahead of a regularly scheduled on-site visit by the Council of Europe's Moneval evaluators early next year.

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