Bank of Italy withholds blessing from Vatican ATMs
A stand-off between two titans of finance, the Bank of Italy and the Vatican, has forced tourists to abandon their visits to the Sistine Chapel – unless they have cash in their pockets.
Italy’s central bank has blocked all electronic payments through ATM cash machines and by credit cards in Vatican City following the city state’s failure to fully comply with international anti-money laundering rules.
The incident raises further questions about the transparency of the Vatican’s finances.
Deutsche Bank’s Italian division, which runs a network of cash machines for the Vatican, was refused authorisation from the central bank to continue operating its services from the start of the year. The Vatican is not on the European Commission’s “white list” of states complying fully with international standards against tax fraud and money laundering.
Deutsche Bank Italia has run the Holy See cash machines since 1997 but only applied to the Bank of Italy for authorisation last year, according to people familiar with the matter.
In a tightly worded statement, Fr Federico Lombardi, head of press relations at the Holy See, said the use of the cash machines inside Vatican City “are at the point of expiry”.
A report by Moneyval – Council of Europe experts who examine measures to counter money laundering – last year passed the Vatican in nine out of 16 core recommendations.
It said the city state had to address important issues to demonstrate that a fully effective banking regime existed in practice, signalling that it could be a lengthy process before the city state met the standards necessary to be accepted onto the white list. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013