FaithWorld

Pope Francis fires entire board of Vatican financial watchdog

June 6, 2014
(New recruits of the Vatican's elite Swiss Guard march in front of the tower of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) during the swearing-in ceremony at the Vatican May 6, 2014. The Swiss Guard, founded in 1506, consist of 100 volunteers who must be of Swiss nationality, Catholic, single, at least 174 cm (5.7 ft) tall and without a beard. New recruits are sworn in every year on May 6 to commemorate the day where 147 Swiss soldiers died defending the Pope during an attack on Rome in 1527. REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

(New recruits of the Vatican’s elite Swiss Guard march in front of the tower of the Vatican’s bank, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) on May 6, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

Pope Francis sacked the five-man board of the Vatican’s financial watchdog on Thursday – all Italians – in the latest move to break with an old guard associated with a murky past under his predecessor.

The Vatican said the pope named four experts from Switzerland, Singapore, the United States and Italy to replace them on the board of the Financial Information Authority (AIF), the Holy See’s internal regulatory office. The new board includes a woman for the first time.

All five outgoing members were Italians who had been expected to serve five-year terms ending in 2016 and were laymen associated with the Vatican’s discredited financial old guard.

Reformers inside the Vatican had been pushing for the pope, who already has taken a series of steps to clean up Vatican finances, to appoint professionals with an international background to work with Rene Bruelhart, a Swiss lawyer who heads the AIF and who has been pushing for change.

Vatican sources said Bruelhart, Liechtenstein’s former top anti-money laundering expert, was chafing under the old board and wanted Francis to appoint global professionals like him.

“Bruelhart wanted a board he could work with and it seems the pope has come down on his side and sent the old boy network packing,” said a Vatican source familiar with the situation.

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