A Hail Mary pass

(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.

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2 Responses to A Hail Mary pass

  1. Graham Thomas says:

    Hi Susan

    Well done for resisting the pun temptations. It must have been difficult for you !!

    Really interesting to see the range of “spin” that has been applied to what is a very formal and detailed report, as depending on the differing perspectives (and interests) of the reviewers. It also acts as a very useful reminder that we shouldn’t necessarily rely too much upon such reviews without giving the source material a quick once over for ourselves to make sure it hasn’t been mis-represented. Easy to say in principle but I now need to decide how quick my own once over should be …. bearing in mind that there are 241 pages involved !!

    Great blog as ever.

    Best wishes.


  2. Hi Graham
    Always hard to resist a pun!
    And you’re absolutely right: it’s fine to get an overview from someone else, but it’s crucial to look at the source material to make sure it’s not been “spun”. And the MONEYVAL/FATF evaluation reports are actually well-structured, with an Executive Summary at the beginning with the highlights, so you can quickly get to the sections that interest you.
    Thanks as always for your comment and support.
    Best wishes from Susan

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