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Strengthening the framework

· aif report for 2013 ·

The Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria (aif) of the Holy See and the Vatican City State has presented its Annual Report for 2013. The report reviews the activities and statistics of aif for the year 2013. The year 2013 has seen a significant strengthening of the legal and institutional framework of the Holy See and Vatican City State to effectively combat financial crime, an institutionalization of international collaboration of the competent authority of the Holy See with its foreign counterparts, and a massively improved performance in monitoring potential financial wrongdoing.

“In 2013 we have taken further decisive steps to foster the legal framework, and, at the same time, to make it work in practice,” said René Brülhart, Director of the aif. He continued: “The evaluation conducted by Moneyval, the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism of the Council of Europe, in December 2013, and our statistics allow us to say that today we have a proper and equivalent system in place to prevent and fight financial crime. A system that is well in line with international standards.”

The number of requests from aif submitted to foreign authorities has increased from 1 in 2012 to 28; the number of requests received by the aif from foreign authorities has climbed from 3 in 2012 to 53 in 2013. “This increase is also due to international cooperation fostered by a series of bilateral agreements we have concluded,” said Brülhart. In 2013, aif became a member of the Egmont Group, the global network of Financial Intelligence Units, and signed various bilateral agreements to institutionalize mutual collaboration in the area of anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism. Memoranda of Understanding have been signed with Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the United States.The aif has recorded a notable uptake in suspicious transaction reports (str) from 6 in 2012 to 202 in 2013. This increase reflects both the development of the legal framework and a substantial improvement in the operational performance of the supervised entities with regard to the prevention of financial crime. Five reports have been passed on to the Vatican Promoter of Justice for further investigation by judicial authorities.

As already observed in 2012, the number of declarations of cash above the amount of € 10,000 has decreased again in 2013 to 1,557 declarations for outgoing cash (2012: 1,782) and 550 declarations for incoming cash (2012: 598). This is due to an increased monitoring by the competent authorities and the introduction of reinforced procedures at the supervised entities.

By way of two Motu Proprio in July and August 2013, the Holy Father extended the competencies of the Holy See authorities, particularly aif, and aligned the legal framework with international standards. By way of a third Motu Proprio in November 2013, the Holy Father responded to the requirements set forth by the extension of responsibilities of the aif by issuing a new Statute for the aif. In essence, the new Statute has built the aif on two pillars, supervision and financial intelligence, and has clarified some aspects with regard to the governance, e.g. required professional and financial skills for key personnel of the aif’s bodies.

In the initial trimester of 2014, aif conducted the first ordinary on-site inspection of the Institute of Religious Works (ior) to verify the implementation of the measures taken to prevent and counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism pursuant to the Law XVIII of 8 October 2013.

The inspection has shown substantial progress made by the ior over the past 12 months. As a result of the inspection, aif has developed an action plan for the full adaptation of procedures to the requirements of Law XVIII and the implementation of further organizational and procedural improvements.

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