Pope cleans up Vatican cash on George Pell’s orders
The Pope has stripped funds from a secretive bank inside the Vatican, as he follows through on financial transparency recommendations made by Australian Cardinal George Pell.
The Secretariat of State, which operated its own finance arm inside the Holy See, has now had its cash moved into one central bank in the Vatican.
Pope Francis chaired a high powered meeting in Rome on Wednesday night local time, where the money was signed over.
The meeting followed through on an official letter that the Pope sent on August 25 demanding the clean up.
A Vatican statement said that the meeting dealt with "the transfer of the administrative management of the funds of the Secretariat of State to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and their control to the Secretariat for the Economy."
"At the same meeting, the Pope constituted the "Commission for transfer and control", which will come into operation with immediate effect, in order to complete the provisions of the letter to the Secretary of State over the next three months," the statement said.
The move comes after Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu resigned following claims about questionable financial deals, including a $363 million investment in a commercial property deal in London that went sour.
The money for the London deal came from the Secretariat of State, where Cardinal Becciu was a key figure until his shock departure in September.
Cardinal Pell had moved to Rome in 2014 and had raised concerns about the money in the Secretariat of State's control, suggesting that it be moved into one central fund for transparency and oversight.
The Vatican's former chief auditor, Libero Milone, blew the whistle on the Secretariat's finances, after he found hundreds of millions of dollars hidden in Swiss bank accounts.
Mr Milone was accused of "spying" in 2017, but the Vatican withdraw all charges the following year.
"Some people got worried that I was about to uncover something I shouldn't see," he told London's Financial Times in 2019.
Cardinal Pell has returned to Rome to clean out his apartment, but it was expected he would stay for several months after he won a High Court appeal to quash a conviction on child sex abuse charges that he had denied.
He spent more than 400 days in prison before he was acquitted.
Cardinal Becciu has denied any wrongdoing in regards to finances at the Vatican.
He has also denied reports in Italian media that he authorised more than $1.1 million in payments to Australia that were linked to Cardinal Pell's case.
One of Cardinal Pell's complainants has denied he received any payments.
Austrac, the Australian government authority responsible for investigating money laundering, has probed the payments and passed information on to Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police.
Victoria Police said last month that it would not investigate the payments.
Originally published as Pope cleans up Vatican cash on Pell's orders