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Australian agency reviewing data on Vatican money transfers

AUSTRAC Vatican Money Transfers

Title: Australian agency reviewing data on Vatican money transfers
Author: Nicole Winfield with contribution from Rod McGuirk
Publisher: ABCNews/Associated Press
Date: 07JAN2021

Australia’s financial intelligence agency says it’s reviewing its data after questions were raised about its report that $1.8 billion was transferred from the Vatican to Australia over six years.

The agency, Austrac, said it was working with the Vatican to get to the bottom of the matter. The Vatican confirmed it was in contact with Austrac regarding “an examination of the data that it (Austrac) provided in recent days.”

Austrac listed the annual transactions since 2014 in response to a parliamentary inquiry without providing any details about senders or recipients. The agency monitors financial transactions to identify money laundering, organized crime, tax evasion, welfare fraud and terrorism financing.

The data raised eyebrows in Australia and the Holy See, given the number of transfers and amounts that appeared to be greatly out of line with the Vatican’s financial reality. It also fueled media speculation that money from the Holy See helped influence the Australian criminal prosecution of Cardinal George Pell, who was convicted and then acquitted of historic sex abuse.

“Austrac is currently undertaking a detailed review of the figures and is working with the Holy See and Vatican City State Financial Intelligence Unit on this matter,” the agency said in response to a query from The Associated Press.

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