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Vatican Bank Money Laundering Allegations

The Vatican's bank, the Institute for Religious Works, is under severe scrutiny and facing money laundering allegations. Authorities seized 23 million euro ($30 million dollars) of the Vatican's assets in September 21, 2010 from a Vatican Bank based in Rom's Credito Artigiano SpA following an investigation into transaction documents.

Court documents provided prosecutors evidence of "the aim of hiding the ownership, destination, and origin of capital" in two transactions. One of the transactions occurred in 2009 with an account holder's falsified identity. A second transaction occurred in 2010 when the Vatican Bank withdrew 650,000 euro ($60 million) from a bank in Italy but refused to comply with bank requests regarding the destination of the funds. The Vatican's refusal to provide the bank with information regarding the origin and destination of the funds breached Italian banking laws. Authorities have pieced together the location of the funds, with 20 million euro ($26 million dollars) transferred to JP Morgan in Frankfurt and the rest going to Banco dl Fucino.

All banks involved in the money laundering allegations have not commented on the matter. The Vatican is confident the "misunderstanding" will be resolved quickly. The Vatican has also agreed to comply with EU financial laws and create a "watchdog" group to monitor financial transactions. Paolo Cipriani, the Vatican Bank's second in command, is also under investigation for breach of money laundering laws.

An Italian court has denied the Vatican's appeal requesting the court to "lift the order of seized assets."

The Vatican Bank was founded in 1942 by Pope Pius XII specifically to manage religious or charitable funds. Holocaust survivors have claimed the Nazi funds were used to fund the Vatican Bank and are hopeful the money laundering investigation will assist in proving their claims.

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