Vatican imposes new investment policy amid financial scandal

The Vatican has centralized and revised its investment strategy after a botched deal lost tens of millions of euros.

He imposed a policy that prohibits investment in commodities such as pornography and weapons and prioritizes prudent investment in industries that promote the common good.

The new policy announced Tuesday by the Secretariat for the Economy prohibits speculative investments, short sales and investments in highly leveraged or complex financial products or in countries vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing. .

Vatican offices have one year to come up with a divestment strategy if any of their investments fall into the prohibited categories.

Pope Francis has tried to clean up Vatican finances (Andrew Medichini/AP/PA)

The policy follows a decade of efforts, first by Pope Benedict and then Pope Francis, to clean up the Vatican’s troubled finances and reputation as an offshore tax haven with little or no expertise, oversight or oversight. accountability guiding investment decisions.

The Vatican’s financial practices drew wider attention when, in 2019, its prosecutors launched an investigation into the Secretary of State’s 350 million euro investment in a London property, which caused the Holy Headquarters tens of millions of fees and commissions to brokers and other losses. .

Ten people, including a cardinal, Italian brokers and former Vatican officials, have been on trial for a year for a series of alleged financial crimes.

Evidence presented at trial showed that the Secretary of State’s 600 million euro sovereign wealth fund was essentially managed by a priest. Monsignor Alberto Perlasca recommended investments to his superior, who trusted the advice even though Monsignor Perlasca had little or no outside expertise.

He was originally a prime suspect in the investigation but became the prosecution’s star witness.

At one point, according to court documents and testimonies, the Vatican considered investing 200 million euros in an oil extraction deal in Angola. A decision was made against it and the money was instead spent on converting a former luxury department store Harrod’s warehouse into a luxury residential property.

At another point, the Vatican invested in a fund behind Sir Elton John’s biopic Rocketman.

Even before the announcement of the new policy, Pope Francis had deprived the Secretariat of State of its ability to manage its own money and ordered the transfer of assets to the Patrimony Administration of the Apostolic See (APSA).

The APSA manages the real estate and other patrimonies of the Vatican and is now responsible for overseeing the investment strategy for the whole of the Holy See.

Comments are closed.