(The opportunities for puns in this post are almost endless, so I will try to contain myself.) On 4 July 2012, MONEYVAL published its first evaluation of the AML/CFT regime of the Holy See. (I’ve always called it the Vatican, but apparently the Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome and has been around, like, forEVAH, while the Vatican City is merely a city state that happens to be in the middle of Rome and was invented in 1929. Pay attention: there may be questions.) You will remember that there has long been something of an unholy hoohah about money laundering through the Vatican Bank, and then in May 2012 the director of that bank was fired for “dereliction of duty”. So we’ve been counting our rosary beads for the release of this report.
What I have enjoyed is the different interpretations of the same material – which, frankly, is as good a definition as you’re ever going to get of religion itself. The MONEYVAL report says this: “The Holy See/Vatican City State authorities have come a long way in a very short period of time and many of the building blocks of an AML/CFT regime are now formally in place. But further important issues still need addressing in order to demonstrate that a fully effective regime has been instituted in practice.” This was reported by the Beeb like this: “The Vatican has tried to gain entry to a so-called ‘white list’ of countries that are recognised globally as financially transparent. The report said the Vatican’s measures for tackling money laundering and financing of terrorism were inadequate.” The Catholic News Service put it like this: “Overall, the Vatican met nine out of 16 ‘key and core’ recommendations, thereby passing its first major test in an effort to become more financially transparent and compliant with international norms.” And The Sun preferred: “Are banks dodgy? Am I a Catholic? Cash scandal hits the Vatican as the Pope’s financiers were clobbered by an EU panel!” You’ll be relieved to hear that page three did not feature a topless photo of Benedict, aged 85, who likes visiting different countries and hopes for world peace.