Vatican bank supervisory members step down over management differences

Vatican City

Two members of the Vatican bank's board of supervisors handed in their resignation over a difference in opinion concerning the bank's management.

Carlo Salvatori and Clemens Borsig decided to step down from the Vatican bank, known formally as the Institute for the Works of Religion, "in light of legitimate reflections and opinions concerning the management of an institute whose nature and purpose" are "so particular," the Vatican said in a written communique May 25.

With the institute's annual report "having been completed in a positive manner," the two finance executives "recently presented their resignations to the president of the Cardinals' Commission of the IOR," Cardinal Santos Abril Castello. The cardinal "thanked the two members of the board and accepted the resignations," the Vatican statement said.

"The two board members made a competent and qualified contribution in this important phase for the stability and integrity of the institute and its conformity not only to internal Vatican regulations, but also obligations taken by the Holy See on a European level," the statement said.

Salvatori is president of the Allianz insurance company and the investment bank Lazard Italy. Borsig served as chairman of the supervisory board of Deutsche Bank for six years and has been a member of the boards of several companies, including Daimler and Bayer. The Italian and the German executives were part of an all new board of six lay members brought in to the IOR in 2014 along with its new president -- Jean-Baptiste de Franssu.

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Borsig, along with four other former Deutsche Bank officials, was acquitted in a German trial April 25 of charges of lying to judges in a long-running civil lawsuit by a media magnate against the German bank.

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters May 25 that the now-vacant positions would be filled, but that the screening and hiring process could take "months." Led by de Franssu, the supervisory board currently includes U.S. law professor and former Ambassador to the Vatican, Mary Ann Glendon, Australian Michael Hintze and Chilean Mauricio Larrain.

In a "completely unrelated" communique released the same day "by chance," Lombardi said, the Vatican confirmed it was still cooperating with Italy in an investigation of Angelo Proietti. Italian authorities placed the building contractor under house arrest May 19 on suspicion of aggravated fraudulent bankruptcy.

The Vatican said it began its investigation of Proietti in 2013 and seized all of his "relevant financial resources" at the Vatican bank following reports of suspicious transactions.

"A criminal investigation is currently going on in Vatican City State and the competent authorities are assessing the existence of potential offenses against entities of the Holy See and Vatican City State," the statement said.

The Italian news agency ANSA reported May 19 that Italian police seized several accounts Proietti held at the Vatican bank. Italian investigators said he siphoned off 11 million euros from "Edil Ars," a building contractor for several Vatican and Italian government bodies and agencies.

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July 14-27, 2017