Police seize $30M from Vatican bank, investigate officials

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Just when the Catholic Church didn’t need another scandal, Italian authorities have seized 23 million euros ($30.2 million) from a Vatican bank account and begun investigating top officials of the Vatican bank in connection with a money laundering probe.

Italian financial police seized the money as a precaution Tuesday and prosecutors placed the Vatican bank’s director general and its chairman — a man who speaks frequently about morality in financing — under investigation for alleged mistakes linked to violations of Italy’s anti-laundering laws, news reports said.

The is probe not the first time the bank — formally known as the Institute for Religious Works— has faced trouble. In the 1980s, it was involved in a major scandal that resulted in a banker being found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London.

In a statement, the Vatican said it had been working for some time to make its finances more transparent to comply with anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering regulations.


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This post was last updated: Sep. 21, 2010