Report Cites Holy See Improvement in Finance

Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF) 2020 Report

Holy See Finance
St. Peter's Basilica - Copyright: Cathopic

The Holy See ranks among the most virtuous jurisdictions in the world in certain areas, such as finance, the fight against money laundering, and the financing of terrorism. This is according to the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF) 2020 Report, published today, reported in Vatican News.

An extensive account of the activity carried in the past year, an analysis of Moneyval’s positive judgment in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, the current state of regulation, supervision, and financial information as well as of international cooperation are highlighted in the ASIF 2020 Report with a publishing date of July 16, 2021

The report also highlights the effectiveness of domestic and international cooperation. It reveals the existence of 89 reports of suspicious activities in 2020, and of 16 reports sent to the Office of the Promoter of Justice. 49 requests for information were exchanged with other Vatican Authorities, concerning 124 subjects. This, the report notes, is a sign of “important growth compared to the previous year,” confirming the considerable synergies created between the institutions of the Holy See and Vatican City State in the fight against criminal activities.

Thanks to two memoranda of understanding on an international platform, and due to the active collaboration of Vatican investigative forces, ASIF exchanged 58 requests for information with foreign Financial Information Units (FIU) on 196 subjects and sent 19 spontaneous communications regarding 104 subjects.

The Report describes the decrease of the use of cash in the Vatican as progressive.  It says this trend is also due to the availability of other systems of money transfer carried out by the IOR (the Vatican Bank) to guarantee better standards of security and traceability.

A year of intense activity

Despite the pandemic, ASIF’s work has been intense. In January, it was announced that it would re-join the “Egmont Secure Web” international information circuit, after being suspended in November 2019 following a Vatican investigation.

In April, the new management took office, with more staff and the approval, by Pope Francis, of a Statute, which better defined the structure and the organizational aspect of the institution.

ASIF has made significant commitments following the evaluation by Moneyval (Committee of Experts of the Council of Europe for Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing). In fact, it was precisely ASIF that played an important coordinating role during the investigation, with its President, Carmelo Barbagallo, leading the Vatican delegation.

Moneyval’s approval 

The 2020 report gives an account of Moneyval’s evaluations regarding the effective functioning of the system for preventing and combating the financing of terrorism. The final judgment rewards the seriousness and rigorousness of the approach followed by the Holy See and Vatican City State. In essence, out of the 11 criteria examined, there was no assessment of ‘low effectiveness’. There was ‘Substantial effectiveness’ for 5 areas such as ‘international cooperation’ or ‘preventive measures’; ‘moderate effectiveness’ for the other 6 areas. The positive picture has led Moneyval to decide that the next evaluation of progress regarding the conformity of actions suggested by the experts will take place in three years and that of effectiveness in five, through a new inspection.

ASIF effectiveness according to Moneyval
The following two charts show the evaluation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body for the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. It can be seen that the Holy See has reached an important level on par with the most active countries in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Comparison between Holy See and other states
Holy See’s position on evaluation chart

A collaborative effort

The Report highlights an Intense and important commitment in three areas: Regulation, Supervision and Financial Information.

As regards “Regulation”, the revision of Law no. XVIII of 2013 on preventing and combating money laundering and terrorist financing was decisive.

Regarding “Supervision”, a “Guide” has been created that describes the activities that consent to the formulation of evaluation regarding current and prospective situations of the supervised entity. It also determines, in the presence of significant deficiencies, the adoption of corrective measures.

As per “Financial Information”, the report notes a growing trend in the proportion of reports sent to the Office of the Promoter of Justice and of reports received.

In conclusion, the report notes that a path has been undertaken of “absolute transparency of the institutional activities of Vatican City State,” as called for by Pope Francis at the opening of the 92nd judicial year, with good practices that are exemplary, as befitting the reality of the Catholic Church.