US adds Vatican to potential money laundering centres list

For the first time, the US government has added the Vatican to its annual list of countries as potential centres for money laundering.

The US State Department (DoS) in its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy report listed the Vatican in the second category as a "jurisdiction of concern" along with 67 other countries that linclude Egypt, South Korea, Albania, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Czech Republic and Yemen.

The report, made public on 7 March, had 190 countries, which were classified in three categories, Jurisdictions of ''Primary Concern'', ''of Concern'' and ''Monitored''.

Although Pope Benedict XVI had in April 2011 introduced anti-money laundering legislation, the State Department appears to have placed the Holy See in the category ''of Concern'' due to large amounts of cash that flows into Vatican and was unclear how effective the legislation was.

Just weeks back Vatican official had to issue a series of denials after several leaked documents from within the Vatican, dubbed as 'Vatileaks', revealed allegations of corruption and money laundering within the Holy See.

In 2010, Rome prosecutors had launched a three-month money laundering investigation against Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president, and Paolo Cipriani, chief executive of the Vatican bank, also known as the Institute for Religious Works. (The Vatican bank or God's bank, is called Institute for Religious Works, or IOR, in Italian).