For over a decade, there has been an effort to clean up the Vatican’s questionable financial structure and financial practices. From inexperienced management to questionable investments, there have been many missteps in the Vatican’s financial history, but Pope Francis hopes to begin to clean up these practices with a new investment policy that will come into effect in the next year.
Nicole Winfield with AP News writes:
The Vatican has centralized and overhauled its investment strategy after a botched deal lost tens of millions of euros, imposing a policy that prohibits investments in products such as pornography and weapons and prioritizes prudent investing in industries that promote the common good.
The new policy announced Tuesday by the Secretariat for the Economy bans speculative investments, short selling and investing in highly leveraged or complex financial products or in countries vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing.
Vatican offices have one year to come up with a divestment strategy if any of their investments fall under prohibited categories.
The policy follows a decade of efforts, first by Pope Benedict XVI and then Pope Francis, to try to clean up the Vatican’s murky finances and its reputation as an off-shore tax haven with little or no expertise, oversight or accountability guiding investment decisions.
This new policy also comes in response to a 2019 investigation into a London investment that uncovered malpractice, huge financial loss, and a lack of appropriate oversight.
The Vatican’s less-than-professional financial practices attracted a broader spotlight when Vatican prosecutors in 2019 launched an investigation into the secretariat of state’s 350 million-euro investment in a London property, which lost the Holy See tens of millions in fees and commissions to brokers and other losses.
Ten people, including a cardinal, Italian brokers and former Vatican officials, have been on trial for a year on a range of alleged financial crimes.
Evidence presented at the trial showed the secretariat of state’s 600 million-euro sovereign wealth fund was essentially managed by one priest. Monsignor Alberto Perlasca recommended investments to his superior, who in turn trusted the advice, even though Perlasca had little or no outside expertise, oversight or criteria guiding his decisions.
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