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Vatican court continues investigating possible cases of money laundering

While the trial of five people accused of leaking confidential Vatican financial documents captured headlines in 2016, the Vatican City court also continued investigating possible financial crimes, freezing more than £1.6 million in assets deposited at the Vatican bank.

Gian Piero Milano, promoter of justice at the Vatican City court, summarised the city-state’s judicial activity on 18th February.

The funds were frozen in 2016 as part of Vatican investigations of possible money laundering, Milano said. From 2012 through 2016, he said, the Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority reported 23 cases of suspicious transactions to the court; 17 of those cases still are under investigation, he said.

The total funds frozen over the past four years, Milano said, included almost 11.3 million in euros, just over 1 million in dollars and more than 320,000 British pounds – a total equivalent to about £10.7 million.

Since Pope Benedict XVI began introducing legal reforms in 2010 and with the establishment of the financial authority and new laws aimed at preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism, he said, the Vatican has been showing its commitment to supporting international initiatives “to fight phenomena like corruption, financial criminality and the borderline practices of high finance.”

Picture: Pope Francis leads a canonisation Mass on 16th October 2016 at St Peter’s square in Vatican. (Vandeville Eric/ABACA/PA Images).