In move to transparency, Vatican bank issues first report

In move to transparency, Vatican bank issues first report
An exterior view shows the tower of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), the Vatican bank, in Vatican City in this file photo.

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican bank, dogged for decades by scandals and opaque dealings, published the first annual report in its 125-year history on Tuesday.

The report covered 2012, a tumultuous year that saw its former president ousted in a boardroom battle and leaks of documents on internal disagreements on how it should be run.

Bank President Ernst Von Freyberg, who started his job this year, said the 100-page report was an attempt to meet the commitment to transparency that Catholics around the world "rightfully expect".

A five-member committee appointed by Pope Francis, who has promised to clean up the Vatican's financial image, is also preparing a report on how to reform the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).

The IOR said that in 2012 it had a net profit of 86.6 million euro (S$146.8 million), more than four times greater than the 20.2 million euro profit in 2011.

The report, whose figures were audited by KPMG, said the huge increase in net profit was due mainly favourable trading results and higher bond values.

It said 54.7 million euro of the profit was transferred to the budget of the Holy See to help the pope carry out the Church's mission around the world. It also revealed the extent of the IOR's holdings in gold, coins and other precious metals (41.3 million euros), that it had a stake in an Italian real estate company, and received two inheritance properties worth about 2 million euros in 2012.

The bank's stated aim is to hold and manage money for Vatican departments, orders of priests and nuns, Catholic institutions and related entities, clergy and Vatican employees.

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