Vatican bank launches website in transparency drive

The Vatican bank launched a website in a drive for greater transparency as it tries to reform following money-laundering accusations.

Vatican City: The Vatican bank launched a website on Wednesday in a drive for greater transparency as it tries to reform following money-laundering accusations against two ex-directors and a deeply intrigue-ridden history.

The ior.Va site for the Institute for Works of Religion, or IOR under its Italian acronym, contains information about the bank including the CVs of the cardinals` commission which oversees the institution.

The IOR last year had 18,900 clients, 114 employees and a total of USD 9.4 billion in assets under management, according to a facts and figures section on the pared-down website.

It made a net profit of EUR 86.6 million in 2012.

Outsiders will not be allowed to open accounts, however, since access to the bank is limited to Vatican employees, clerics, religious congregations and diplomats affiliated with the Holy See.

Pope Francis has set up a committee to investigate the bank and is planning a major shake-up as part of broader reforms of the Vatican bureaucracy.

"Our duty is to manage the IOR in such a way that it can conform with international norms, that it can be a clean institution," IOR president Ernst Von Freyberg said in an interview with Vatican radio.

Von Freyberg said the bank would publish its accounts for the first time later this year.

The director general of the bank Paolo Cipriani and his deputy Massimo Tulli were forced to resign earlier this month after coming under investigation in a money-laundering probe by Italian authorities.

The investigation found that the bank operated in a way that made it susceptible to money laundering, according to legal documents leaked to Italian media.

Investigators reportedly said the bank did not carry out enough checks on clients and account holders were allowed to transfer large sums on behalf of others.

The inquiry centred on a suspect USD 30 million transfer made from the Vatican bank to Italian lender Credito Artigiano in September 2010.