Vatican bank names consultant as director as overhaul continues

ROME Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:14am EST

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ROME Nov 30 (Reuters) - The Vatican bank said on Saturday it had appointed Rolando Marranci, a consultant called in to help improve transparency, as director general to take charge of operations as the institution seeks to reform after a series of scandals.

Marranci, 60, has acted as deputy director general since July, when the then-director general Paolo Cipriani and his number two Massimo Tulli resigned after a senior cleric with close ties to the bank was arrested on suspicion of plotting to smuggle 20 million euros into Italy from Switzerland.

He previously worked with Promontory Financial Group, an outside consultancy called in by Pope Francis to help review all accounts held by the bank's customers and tighten anti-money laundering procedures.

A former executive with Italy's Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, Marranci's appointment is the latest in a series of changes at the bank, formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) as it battles to emerge from allegations it has dragged its feet in improving transparency standards.

In February, Pope Francis, who has made a cleanup of the bank a priority, appointed German lawyer Ernst von Freyberg as president of IOR. Freyberg, who has been standing in as temporary director general, will continue in his post and Marranci will report to him.

In June, Monsignor Mario Salvatore Ricca was named as prelate, who acts as secretary of the commission of cardinals at the top of the bank but who also attends meetings of the supervisory board headed by Freyberg.

The IOR, which manages funds and payment services for the Vatican and other Catholic institutions, has been tarnished by a series of scandals over the past three decades.

Most notably, it was implicated in the collapse of Italy's Banco Ambrosiano, whose chairman Roberto Calvi was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982.

The future of the bank has been in doubt ever since the arrival of Pope Francis, who has appointed two commissions to advise him on cleaning up Vatican finances and who has not ruled out shutting it down if it cannot be fixed.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, the cleric whose arrest triggered the departure of the previous director general, has told investigators of several abuses, including unauthorised accounts provided to outsiders.

The Vatican has passed legislation this year to make its finances more transparent, in line with recommendations from Moneyval, the Council of Europe's anti-money laundering unit. (Editing by David Evans)

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