Australia financial unit admits huge Vatican transfer error

Australia financial unit admits huge Vatican transfer error

FILE PHOTO: View of St. Peter's Square on Christmas Day at the Vatican
A general view of St Peter's Square on Christmas Day at the Vatican on Dec 25, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Yara Nardi)

VATICAN CITY: Australia’s financial intelligence agency has admitted it vastly misreported the amount of money transferred from the Vatican to Australia over the past six years by nearly US$1.5 billion.

A statement on Wednesday (Jan 13) from the Vatican confirmed that the actual amount of money transferred since 2014 was US$7.35 million and that the funds were used for contractual payments and the management of the Holy See's embassy and other resources in Australia.

The Vatican noted a report in The Australian newspaper which said the country’s financial intelligence agency, Austrac, had informed the Australian Senate of the mistake. The newspaper said the miscalculation was believed to have resulted from a computer coding error.

The Vatican confirmed last week that it was working with Austrac to get to the bottom of what the Vatican said was a “huge discrepancy” in the agency's data, given that the number of transactions and the amount of money reportedly sent were vastly out of line with the Vatican’s financial reality.

Austrac had provided the Vatican's annual transactions since 2014 in response to a parliamentary inquiry. The astonishing amount fueled speculation that money from the Holy See had helped influence the Australian criminal prosecution of Cardinal George Pell, who was convicted and then acquitted of historic sex abuse.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Vatican said it “repeats its respect for the institutions of the country and its satisfaction with the collaboration of the concerned entities".

Source: AP/vc