“These are the forces that will dictate the shape of our century. Al-Qaeda, American Oil companies, and the Eastern European Mafia.” – Turkish Mafia boss Emre Celenk, episode Persephone, Spooks 2004
June 2014 – VATICAN – The Vatican announced on Saturday that its financial crimes watchdog had signed cooperation deals with Britain, France and four other nations – Malta, Poland, Romania and Peru. A statement said that under the agreements, the Financial Intelligence Authority agreed to “exchange of financial information to fight money laundering and combat terrorist financing.” Similar deals are already in place with nine other countries, including Italy, Germany and the United States. Last year, the AIF was admitted into the Egmont Group, a worldwide association of financial regulators. In recent years, the Vatican has acted on international pressure to clean up its act in financial matters. Its bank, the Institute for Religious Works, had for decades been accused of being a money laundering hub for criminals and tax evaders. Earlier in the week, Pope Francis overhauled the membership of the five-member panel that oversees the AIF. He replaced five veteran Italian counselors with a more international ensemble, comprising four non-Italians.
Juan C Zarate, a Harvard Law School professor and a former US government official under president George W Bush, was among the new appointees. He served as deputy national security advisor from 2005 to 2009. Last month, Francis pledged “honesty and transparency” in Vatican economic affairs, adding that allegations of misconduct against former secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone were being reviewed. Bertone, who was the second-highest in command during the papacy of Benedicy XVI, is suspected of leaning on the IOR to bail out a media firm owned by a friend, in a trade that reportedly caused a 15-million-euro (20.5-million-dollar) loss to the bank. –VOR