Vatican hires Liechtenstein anti-money laundering guru

Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:01am EDT

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* Hiring follows European report on Vatican financial transparency

* Report gave Vatican overall passing grade but saw failure in seven areas

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY, Sept 11 (Reuters) - The Vatican has hired Liechtenstein's former top anti-money laundering expert to help the Holy See comply fully with international standards on financial transparency.

Rene Bruelhart, 40, a Swiss lawyer, has been appointed as a consultant on "all matters related to anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism," a statement said on Tuesday.

The Vatican said Bruelhart was hired as part of its "clear commitment" to respond to recommendations of a report by Moneyval, a department of the Council of Europe, which was made public on July 18.

Bruelhart, from Fribourg, was for eight years the director of Liechtenstein's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the department which gathers and analyses information used by police to combat money laundering, organised crime and the financing of terrorism.

Moneyval's landmark report gave the Vatican an overall passing grade on transparency related criteria but failing grades in seven key areas.

The report identified serious failings in the Vatican's bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), which has been enmeshed in several scandals over the years.

The Moneyval report was particularly pointed in its criticism of the management of the IOR and strongly recommended that it be independently supervised and that "fit and proper criteria" should be applied to senior management at the IOR.

The IOR is being investigated by Italian magistrates looking into money laundering. The bank has denied all wrongdoing.

Bruelhart has also served as the vice-chairman of the Egmont Group, a global network of nations' Financial Intelligence Units.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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