Vatican bank starts headhunting for new chief

VATICAN CITY Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:23am EDT

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi speaks during the presentation of his new book ''The Economic Reasons'' in downtown Rome February 22, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi speaks during the presentation of his new book ''The Economic Reasons'' in downtown Rome February 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The board of the Vatican bank met on Wednesday to start the hunt for a new president to replace Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who was unceremoniously ousted last month.

The Vatican said the board, which is made up of outside lay experts, had met to "identify the universally recognized criteria of professionalism and experience" needed for the job.

The board includes Carl Anderson, the American head of the international charity group Knights of Columbus, Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz, formerly a top executive at Deutsche Bank, Manuel Soto Serrano of Banco Santander and Antonio Maria Marocco, a prominent Italian notary.

Former Bundesbank head Hans Tietmeyer has denied Italian media reports that he was a candidate to become the next head of the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).

Gotti Tedeschi, who left after a no confidence vote by the board on May 24, has said he was ousted because he wanted to make the bank more transparent.

The Vatican denied this and said he was an ineffective and divisive manager.

On June 5 Italy's financial police searched his home in northern Italy in connection with a separate, unrelated investigation into an alleged kickback scandal involving defense technology group Finmeccanica. The company denies any wrongdoing.

Gotti Tedeschi is a friend of Finmeccanica CEO and Chairman Giuseppe Orsi, who is under investigation, and magistrates were looking for documents they believed the former Vatican banker may have been holding relevant to the Finmeccanica case.

Orsi has said the idea that he had given any Finmeccanica documents to Gotti Tedeschi was "absurd".

While looking for evidence in that investigation police found a dossier compiled by Gotti Tedeschi concerning his nearly three years at the helm of the Vatican bank, according to judicial sources.

His lawyer, Fabio Palazzo, said police had confiscated notes that his client believed would be useful to counter the accusations made by the board of the Vatican bank when it voted its no-confidence motion.

BRIEFING THE CARDINAL

The Vatican statement said that after their meeting on the requisites for the new president, the board briefed Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone, the secretary of state, who heads a commission of cardinals who oversee the bank.

The choice of a new president for the bank comes at a time when the Vatican is seeking to make the so-called white list of states that comply with international standards on financial transparency.

The next hurdle the bank faces is the judgment of MONEYVAL, a Council of Europe monitoring mechanism that rates states on their effectiveness to fight money laundering and terrorism financing and comply with international standards. The report is due next month.

Anderson, the board member who signed the no-confidence memorandum against Gotti Tedeschi last month, said the IOR was committed to making the white list.

"We are going to continue doing everything necessary to reach that standard. There is no question the board and management are fully committed to that," he told Reuters at the time of Gotti Tedeschi's ousting.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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