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BANK-PRESIDENT (UPDATED) May-25-2012 (520 words) With photo. xxxi

Vatican bank board fires president, citing neglect of duties

By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the Vatican bank, was fired May 24 by the bank's board of supervisors, who censured him for neglecting his duties amid worsening management problems.

The board of the bank, formally known as the Institute for the Works of Religion, issued an unusually blunt statement through the Vatican Press Office, noting that members had repeatedly expressed concern to Gotti Tedeschi about the bank's "governance," but that the "situation has deteriorated further."

The statement said that the board voted to censure Gotti Tedeschi "for not having carried out various responsibilities of primary importance regarding his office," but did not specify the functions in question.

A statement from the board, released by the press office, said the members "are saddened by the events which led to this vote of no confidence, but believe that this action is important in order to maintain the vitality of the institute.

"The board is now looking ahead to the search for a new and distinguished president," who can promote "effective and wider relations between the institute and the financial community based on the shared respect of accepted international banking standards," the statement said.

The Vatican also said the bank's commission of cardinals was to meet May 25 to "assess the consequences of the motion taken by the board and decide on the most appropriate steps to be taken in the future."

In brief comments to the Italian news agency ANSA May 24, Gotti Tedeschi said, "I'm torn between a concern to tell the truth and not wanting to disturb the Holy Father."

"My love for the pope is even more important than the defense of my reputation, called into question in a cowardly way," he said.

ANSA and several other news agencies also quoted anonymous sources claiming Gotti Tedeschi was responsible for leaking at least some confidential Vatican letters and documents to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, which set off a scandal known as "VatiLeaks." The texts reproduced in Nuzzi's book include several notes from Gotti Tedeschi to Msgr. Georg Ganswein, the pope's personal secretary, outlining concerns about the impact of the global financial crisis on the church and about discussions with Italian government authorities over the taxation of church properties.

Pope Benedict XVI named Gotti Tedeschi, an Italian banker and professor of financial ethics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, as president of the bank in 2009. The appointment was seen at the time as a move toward greater transparency in the bank's operations.

The following September, Italian magistrates placed Gotti Tedeschi under investigation in a money-laundering probe, saying that the bank had failed to disclose information about banking operations as mandated by Italy's 2007 law against money-laundering.

That move followed the seizure by Italian treasury police of 23 million euros (US$30 million at the time) that the Vatican bank had deposited in an Italian bank.

The funds were released in June 2011, after the Vatican brought its banking laws in line with international norms intended to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, and set up an oversight body called the Financial Information Authority.


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