The Vatican’s financial watchdog agency has marked 544 activities as questionable, freezing or halting movement of a total of some $2.4 million and 15.3 million Euros.
In what the Vatican bank described as recognition that it has established serious measures to prevent money laundering, it announced the Italian government has promised to return 23 million euros (U.S. $29 million) that had been blocked for more than three years.
Even though the Italian government in 2011 said it was releasing the funds, the Italians believed "issues regarding customer due diligence remained unsolved" and so held on to the funds, said a statement Tuesday from the Institute for the Works of Religion, the formal name of what is commonly called the Vatican bank.
Pope Francis named a slate of new members to the Vatican's financial watchdog agency, replacing an all-Italian panel with members from Italy, Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.
The number of suspicious transaction reports filed grew from six in 2012 to 202 in 2013. The majority of those involved transactions carried out through the Vatican bank.