Pope Francis shakes up Vatican’s finance panel

by John L. Allen Jr., The Boston Globe  |  published on June 5, 2014

ROME – Pope Francis today pressed his campaign to internationalize the Vatican’s financial management, replacing an all-Italian panel overseeing his anti-money laundering agency with a new group drawn from four different nations, including a Harvard professor and former official in the George W. Bush administration.

The appointments came a day after the announcement that a Catholic business manager from Australia will hold a senior position in the pope’s new Secretariat of the Economy, designed to force fiscal transparency and discipline on all Vatican departments.

The “Financial Information Authority” (AIF) was created in 2010 under Pope Benedict XVI to bring the Vatican into compliance with international standards in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Its director is a Swiss lawyer named Renè Bruelhart, who previously led a European regulatory body called the Egmont Group, where one of his claims to fame was restoring a Gulf Stream jet owned by Saddam Hussein to Iraq’s new government in 2003.

Prior to today’s overhaul, AIF’s board of directors had been composed of five veteran Italian counselors of the Vatican, and observers say that Bruelhart and the group occasionally clashed over the pace and direction of reform.

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