* Department at centre of "Vatileaks" corruption allegations
* Pope also strengthens independence of financial regulator
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY, Nov 18 The Vatican has hired an
international accounting firm to scrutinise the department at
the centre of corruption allegations that surfaced in last
year's "Vatileaks" scandal.
Ernst and Young will look at the "Governatorato," which runs
the day-to-day activities of Vatican City, including its
lucrative museums, the Holy See said in a statement.
Since assuming office in March, Pope Francis has taken
action to tackle years of financial scandals, some involving the
Vatican bank, which is being reformed after years of failing to
meet international standards against tax evasion and the
disguising of illegal sources of income.
The Governatorato is the department where Archbishop Carlo
Maria Vigano, the deputy governor of Vatican City, worked before
his abrupt transfer to the United States after speaking out
against what he said was corruption there.
In letters leaked to Italian media by former Pope Benedict's
butler, Vigano complained to the pope that the department
awarded contracts to Italian companies at inflated prices.
In one letter, Vigano said he was shocked to find that in
2009 the Vatican paid about 550,000 euros ($741,100) to build a
larger-than-life Christmas nativity scene in St. Peter's Square.
Vigano said he had managed almost to halve the cost but he
was subsequently transferred to the United States, despite an
appeal to his superiors to be allowed stay in his job. He said
he was being punished for doing his work too well.
The Governatorato denied Vigano's allegations of corruption
Ernst and Young will deliver its findings to a commission
appointed by Pope Francis to advise him on how to make the
Vatican's financial activities more transparent, the statement
With Monday's move, three Vatican departments are now under
review by outside firms. The other two are the Vatican bank and
APSA, a department that manages real estate holdings and
financial and stock portfolios.
On Monday the Vatican also issued new statues for its
Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF), further strengthening
the regulatory office's independence from potential interference
from senior members of the Church hierarchy.
While the statues mostly incorporate changes on financial
transparency already enacted, they also establish a new "office
for prudential supervision", a body that Moneyval, the Council
of Europe's anti-money laundering committee, said was needed.
Moneyval, which carried out a review last year at the
Vatican's request, is due to conduct a new assessment later this
($1 = 0.7421 euros)
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)