Vatican City, (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office has issued a communique rejecting claims made in an article entitled "Money Laundering: Four Priests under Investigation. The Silence of the Vatican" which appeared yesterday in the Italian newspaper "L'Unita". Extracts from the communique are given below.
"The article ... unfortunately reveals a considerable lack of serious research by the author.
"We must begin by making two introductory observations. The title of the article refers to silence on the part of the Vatican. ... This is completely groundless because the Holy See and the authorities of the Vatican have duly cooperated with magistrates and other Italian authorities. The claims made in the article are merely a reworking of past criticisms. ... They are, in fact, 'recycled' accusations which the same journalist has already published on a number of occasions in the past. Repeating them once again does not make them true; rather, we must ask ourselves whether the article was not intended as a kind of advertisement for an evening television show.
"As to the contents of the article, we must clarify the following".
"The principal accusation is that the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) has been involved in illegal activity and that is has failed to assist the Italian authorities who were pursuing these individuals" (the alleged money launderers).
"This is incorrect. Firstly, the article fails to report that, beginning in the years 2006-2007, the IOR has been determinedly committed to analysing accounts and verifying clients in order to ascertain and report the presence of any suspicious transactions. These efforts by the IOR (which, strangely, the media seem to ignore) to identify suspect operations pre-date by several years the adoption by Vatican City State, on 30 December 2010, of Law No. 127 to Counter Money Laundering.
"Moreover, as the Italian authorities are aware, and as emerges from documentation in the possession of officials both of the Holy See and of the Republic of Italy, the IOR has repeatedly cooperated with the Italian authorities at all levels. ... The IOR supplied information, even outside official channels, in the period preceding the establishment of the Vatican Financial Information Authority (AIF). The cooperation of Paolo Cipriani, director general of the IOR, has been described as 'punctual and complete' in documents written by Italian officials. Indeed, in one case, it was precisely rapid action on the part of Mr. Cipriani that enabled one of the individuals identified to be accused".
"Following consultation with the AIF, we can confirm the following:
"(1) It is not true that the IOR failed to provide information to the AIF on the issues in question.
"(2) It is not true that the AIF failed to forward this information to the Italian Financial Information Unit.
"(3) The Italian authorities have never made a request to the AIF regarding one of the individuals mentioned in the article, Msgr. Messina; therefore it is clearly impossible for the AIF to 'respond' to its Italian counterpart.
"These points regarding communication between the AIF and its Italian counterpart are all confirmed by documents held by the AIF, identified with specific protocol numbers.
"Furthermore, the article does not report that on 6 June 2011 one of the individuals mentioned therein - Fr. Bonaccorsi - was declared innocent, a sentence confirmed on appeal.
"The sadly defamatory effect of the article arises from the use of the term 'incriminated' to refer to Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the IOR, and to Paolo Cipriani. Neither of them has ever been incriminated, but merely investigated".