Wednesday, July 9, 2014
'God's banker' tasked with cleaning up Catholic church's finances
New York Post July 9, 2014 The Vatican named a French financier to head its bank, the latest move by Pope Francis to clean up the Catholic Church’s finances following decades of scandal and mismanagement. Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, the former head of Investco’s European operations, has been tapped as president of the Institute of Religious Works, as the bank is known. “Our ambition is to become something of a model for financial management rather than cause for occasional scandal,” Vatican finance minister Cardinal George Pell told journalists. The appointment comes just a day after the bank, stung by probes into money-laundering and cash smuggling, said profits were virtually wiped out last year after it closed or suspended thousands of dubious accounts. Outgoing president Ernst von Freyberg has made the bank’s operations more transparent but there is more work to be done. The web of intrigue and fraud involving the Vatican’s finances dates back to 1982, when the body of a top Italian banker was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London. Roberto Calvi, the chairman of Banco Ambrosiano in Milan, was implicated in money-laundering for the Mafia and also had close dealings with top officials at the Vatican in Rome.