U.S. adds the Vatican to its money-laundering ‘concern’ list

March 8, 2012

(A Vatican two euro commemorative coin, December 16, 2004. REUTERS/Tony Gentile))

The Vatican has for the first time appeared on the U.S. State Department’s list of money-laundering centres but the tiny city-state is not rated as a high-risk country.

The 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report was made public on Wednesday and Washington’s list of 190 countries classifies them in three categories: of primary concern, of concern and monitored.

The Vatican is in the second category, grouped with 67 other nations including Poland, Egypt, Ireland, Hungary and Chile.

It was added to the list because it was considered vulnerable to money-laundering and had recently established programmes to prevent it, a State Department official said.

“To be considered a jurisdiction of concern merely indicates that there is a vulnerability to a financial system by money launderers. With the large volumes of international currency that goes through the Holy See, it is a system that makes it vulnerable as a potential money-laundering center,” Susan Pittman of the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, told Reuters.

Last year, the Vatican adapted internal laws to comply with international standards on financial crime.

The Vatican is seeking inclusion on the European Commission’s so-called “white list” of states who comply with international standards against tax fraud and money-laundering. A decision on its inclusion is expected in June.

“Our aim is to make the ‘white list’ and we are happy that we have been put in the State Department’s less vulnerable category,” a Vatican official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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