Pope Opens The Books: First Ever Vatican Bank Report Shows Savvy Trading And A Big Profit Jump

 @Charressc.harress@ibtimes.com on October 02 2013 8:57 AM

For the first time in 126 years, the Vatican Bank, or Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), has published an annual report in what appears to be an attempt to be more transparent and divert allegations of corruption that have rocked the bank In recent years.

The 100-page report shows that 2012 profits were four times the profits of 2011, rising from 20.3 million euros ($27.5 million) to 86.6 million euros ($111 million). The report also shows that the bank has 4.98 billion euros ($6.73 billion) in assets and 769 million euros ($1.039 billion) in equity funds, with 41.3 million euros ($55.8 million) in gold, coins and other precious metals making up the total.

The jump in profits was due to “favorable trading results and higher bond values, resulting from the general decrease of interest rates in the financial markets throughout the years,” the report said.

The bank has claimed for years that it’s not like other banks and prefers to concentrate on charity work and management of its religious assets, but the report shows that the IOR collected 12 million euros ($16 million) in fees and commissions on asset management for more than 20,000 clients.

The report comes not long after the former bosses of the bank, Paolo Cirpiani and Massimo Tully, resigned after being investigated for alleged money laundering. Pope Francis has since called for a thorough investigation of the bank.

The allegations were directly related to the bank's lack of due diligence in allowing nonreligious customers to use the bank as an offshore tax haven.

The bank's president, Ernst von Freyberg, said it was essential for IOR to be a well-respected member of the global banking community.

"The annual report seeks to contribute to the transparency which the Catholic Church, our customers, our correspondent banks, our authorities and the public rightfully expect," he said.

In July the bank froze the assets of Monsignor Nunzio Scarano after he was arrested by Italian police who believed he was attempting to smuggle 20 million euros ($26 million) in to Italy. 

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