Vatican Bank turns to courts to have €23m in assets freed

City A.M. Reporter
THE Vatican Bank has asked an Italian court to free €23m (£20.1m) of funds frozen in Italian banks when magistrates opened an investigation into suspicion of money laundering.

Vincenzo Scordamaglia, the lawyer representing the Vatican Bank, said a panel of three judges will hold a hearing within two weeks to decide on the request.

Scordamaglia re-stated the Vatican’s position that its bank, formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), had done nothing wrong because it was merely trying to transfer its own funds from one bank to another.

“The entire thing could have been cleared up if [the magistrates] just picked up the phone and made a call,” Scordamaglia said.

On 21 September, Rome magistrates put the Institute for Works of Religion’s president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and director general Paolo Cipriani, under investigation and froze €23m of its funds in two Italian banks after two recent transfers were deemed suspicious by financial police and blocked. One was a transfer of €20m to a German branch of a US bank, and the other of €3m between two Italian banks.