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Pope revamps Vatican financial intelligence after scandals, corruption probes

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Pope Francis has revamped the Holy See’s financial intelligence and anti-money-laundering unit following financial scandals, including an ongoing in-house corruption probe, Vatican officials said Saturday.

The changes involve the governance and organization of the unit, which has been renamed the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority, or ASIF, the Vatican said. Until Saturday, it was known as AIF, or Financial Information Authority.

The revamped authority’s president, Carmelo Barbagallo, a former Italian central bank official, said the changes ordered by Francis in the form of a new statute would strengthen the entity’s financial supervisory responsibilities.

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Francis is intent on bringing greater accountability and transparency to the Vatican, building on efforts forged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

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ASIF’s activities are being divided into three units: vigilance, rules and legal affairs, and financial information.

Its functions include “supervision aimed at the prevention and countering of money laundering and the financing of terrorism,” according to the new statute.

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In signing off on the statute, Francis cited the Holy See’s “progressive implementations of supervisory offices regarding anti-laundering, combating terrorism and the proliferation of the arms of mass destruction.”

Financial scandals have dogged the Vatican for decades.

One of the latest centres on a London real estate deal involving a $350 million Vatican investment. Vatican investigators are looking into the case.