God’s Bankers: Reeling Under Financial Scandals And Embezzlement By Top Cardinals, Vatican Releases Budget, Balance Sheet 

by Swarajya Staff - Oct 4, 2020 11:46 AM
God’s Bankers: Reeling Under Financial Scandals And Embezzlement By Top Cardinals, Vatican Releases Budget, Balance Sheet Pic Courtesy: repubblica.it

Reeling from financial scandals and facing allegations of money laundering by Cardinals, the Vatican finally released a detailed budget, balance sheet and earnings statement on Thursday (Oct 1),

The balance sheet released on October 1 was the first detailed disclosure of Vatican finances since 2016.

According to the financials statements released by Prefecture for Economic Affairs, the Vatican’s net equity was estimated at 1.4 billion euros ($1.6bn) for the Holy See Curia, or bureaucracy. That figure, however, does not include the enormous resources of the Vatican Museums, the government of the Vatican city-state, the Vatican bank, and the funds amassed each year in the Peter’s Pence collection.

Peter’s pence collections is made of the offering that member of the Catholic community give to the Pope directly so that he can provide for the needs of the entire Church. Peter’s Pence derives its name from a ninth-century English custom started by King Alfred the Great, who collected money from landowners as financial support for the pope. Further money came from fees for weddings, funerals and confirmations.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, only 10 percent of the yearly collection, estimated at $55 million goes to charitable works and that two-thirds of the money is used to cover the Vatican’s growing deficit.

The Vatican’s overall patrimony swells to four billion euros ($4.7bn) when taking into account the cash-cow of the Vatican Museums, the Vatican bank and other sources of assets and funds.

The Vatica balance sheet shows a deficit of €11 million ($12.9 million) on a total 2019 budget of €318 million ($373 million).

The balance sheet also provides the most detailed breakdown the Vatican has ever offered of the expenses of different offices of the Roman Curia. APSA—the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, the office that manages the Vatican’s assets—showed the largest expenditures: €66 million. The Secretariat of State was close behind, spending €65 million. The dicastery for Communications spent €46 million. By contrast, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had only $3.3 million in expenses in the last year.

Giovanni Angelo Becciu, one of the most powerful cardinal of Vatican and the longtime number two in the Vatican Secretariat of State, was fired last week after evidence emerged that the Italian Cardinal embezzled 100,000 euros ($117,440) from the secretariat to fund a charity controlled by his brother.

In October last year, Vatican began investigating on how $200 million funds that it had parked in Swiss bank accounts eventually ended up financing a luxury property development in London’s upscale Chelsea district and in the process generated windfall profits for a company that managed the investment for the Holy See.

The sum of $200m held in Swiss bank accounts was controlled by the Secretariat of State and was transferred to a Luxembourg investment fund called Athena Capital. The funds were channeled towards a project to construct 49 luxury apartments at 60 Sloane Avenue. The Vatican is said to be engaged in the project since 2014.

The Secretariat of State serves as the central papal governing bureaucracy of the Catholic Church. It is responsible for tall the political and diplomatic functions of the Holy See. It manages the millions of dollars in charity given by Catholics around the world.

Europe’s anti-money laundering body, Moneyval has also commenced its assessment of Vatican finances.

“Today the assessment team of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Measures against Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism initiates its visit to the Vatican,” the Holy See Press Office said Wednesday (Sep 30).

In August last year Pope Francis announced renewed statutes for the governance of the Vatican Bank, bringing in an external auditor for the first time and introducing new ethical guidelines for members of the bank’s staff.

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