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Getting To The Bottom Of God’s Bank – 12 July 2013

Member: Nifa

News on June 26 that Pope Francis has set up a commission of inquiry to review the activities of the Vatican bank means that an army of investigators are set to pore over details of its 19,000 accounts, 114 employees and £4.6bn worth of assets.  It was the second time in as many weeks that the Pope has intervened to get to the bottom of the problems that have plagued the Institute for Religious Works for decades.

On June 15, he filled a key vacancy in the bank’s governing structure, asking a trusted friend to be his eyes inside the bank.  The commission, whose members have the authority to gather documents data and information about the management of the bank, will act as forensic accountants would do in more secular cases.  The news comes as fresh embarrassment hits the Vatican, as prosecutors in southern Italy have just announced the investigation of a senior Vatican official for alleged money laundering.

Any bank investigating this crime would use the services of forensic accountants, as it is such a complex area and could involve hundreds of thousands of transactions across myriad countries.  Not only would the prosecution use forensic accountants, but those accused would be advised to do so too, as even understanding the legislation involved in the crime can be incredibly complicated.

In such complex cases, the accused needs to ensure that full disclosure has been given of all the accounts and audit trails by the prosecution so that a rebuttal defence can be prepared.  In addition, since such cases are invariably very document and evidence heavy, the accused would need as much help as possible to gather everything together so that a time line can be set up and IT systems set in place that can cope with the various strands of information.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 12 July 2013

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