“Please insert your ATM card and enter your PIN,” as it appears in Vatican City. From the book Found in Translation by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche.
There have been concerns about the Vatican Bank (the “Institute for Works of Religion,” IOR) and money laundering, to the extent that the European Central Bank even blocked Vatican Bank ATM and credit card terminals at one point, practically excluding Vatican City from the EU. In response to pressure from the Roman district attorney’s office, the Bank of Italy, Italy’s central bank, froze electronic transfers with EU banks for the IOR, which initially instead of cooperating tried to find a new banking partner in Switzerland. Now, the Vatican’s government has created a financial oversight authority which presented its first report on 22 May 2013, the first time in history such a thing has happened. The head of the authority announced that six suspicious cases had been reported to them. After investigating, they forwarded two of these cases to Vatican district attornies.
Update on 02 Oct 2013: A group of cardinals is meeting in Rome to discuss Vatican reforms that include issues at the Vatican bank. The I.O.R. published its financial data for the first time on 01 Oct 2013.
An 07 Oct 2013 Spiegel.de article said in Summer 2013 the Vatican Bank had ~1000 accounts held by people not actually eligible to have a Vatican bank account, containing ~300 million euros.
Update on 04 Dec 2013: Former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glindon is chairing a “papal committee” that will submit reform suggestions, but Pope Franziskus has already tasked his personal secretary Alfred Xuereb with overseeing the following reforms, said Spiegel.de:
- “Thousands of accounts were closed. Only people in the global Catholic association [globaler Katholikenverbund] will be allowed to be I.O.R. customers in future.
- “No more anonymous numbered accounts, long a house specialty.
- “The bank will issue no loans, or if it does they will only be in a few ‘extraordinary cases.’
- “Speculative or risky investments have been forbidden for customers’ money.
“These reforms have been described in detail in a manual for employees, as well as how to handle cash transactions; the I.O.R. averaged about triple the percentage of cash transactions as worldly banks.”