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Jean-Pol Grandmont
World News

Vatican's secretariat of state searched in financial probe

by Press Association

The Vatican press office did not provide details about the search and seizures or the nature of the complaints.

In a brief statement, the press office said the complaints arrived over the summer from the Vatican bank and auditor general's office. It said the chief prosecutor at the Vatican's criminal tribunal authorised the seizures.

They were believed to be the first at the secretariat of state, which co-ordinates the activities of the Holy See, functions as the seat of governance of the universal Catholic Church and oversees diplomatic relations with more than 180 nations.

For nearly a decade the Vatican has been trying to clean up its financial act by adhering to international anti-money laundering norms and reforming its bank, the Institute of Religious Works, after decades of accusations that it worked as an offshore tax haven.

Key to the effort has been the creation of the Financial Information Authority (AIF) which works as an internal financial watchdog and liaises with financial intelligence units of other countries to share information about suspect transactions.

In addition to the secretariat of state, the AIF offices were searched on Tuesday, the Vatican said.

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