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Chief heralds 'new' future at scandal-hit bank

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Chief heralds 'new' future at scandal-hit bank
A review in recent months has seen around 3,000 customer accounts closed at the Vatican bank. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
10:23 CEST+02:00
After months of reform the Vatican bank has opened the door to a "transparent" and "unburdened future", the institution's chief said on Tuesday as he announced a steep fall in profits.

The Vatican bank said on Monday that net profits plummeted from €86.6 million in 2012 to €2.9 million last year, attributed to factors such as “extraordinary expenses”. Without such burdens the bank, officially the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), would have registered profits of around €70 million in 2013.

Ernst von Freyberg, president of the board of superintendence, said the new figures followed “painful” reforms to see the bank meet international standards.

“It is fair to say that over the past months this often painful but very necessary process has opened the door to a new, unburdened future of the IOR,” he said in a statement.

A review in recent months has seen around 3,000 customer accounts closed, the majority of them dormant but including 396 accounts which held a total of €44 million. An additional 359 accounts which did not meet new criteria are due to be closed, prompting the outflow of a further €183 million.

Von Freyberg said the review process was part of his mandate to “proceed with zero tolerance for any suspicious activity” and praised the reforms intended “to make the Institute safer and more transparent”.

Despite Von Freyberg being praised for the work he has done since joining the bank in February 2013, a report last week said he could be set to resign amid a shake-up at the institution, which has long been plagued by corruption scandals.

READ MORE: Vatican bank chief to quit amid shake-up: report

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