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After closing “unholy” accounts, the Pope's bank registers a sharp increase in profits

by Carlo Marroni

The IOR - Institute for the Works of Religion, the “Pope’s bank” – has increased its profits and closed various accounts that no longer have the characteristics required by the rules on transparency.

In 2014, the bank registered a sharp increase in profits to €69.3 million, compared with €2.9 million in 2013. According to the Annual Report, the improvement was mainly due to the trading performance and to the decrease in the operating costs of an extraordinary nature, in particular the activities of the consulting firm Promontory.

The Vatican bank will allocate €55 million to the Holy See. Essentially, it is the “dividend” that is traditionally intended for shareholders: the figure is the same as last year and in line with the previous years. Other €14.3 million will be destined for reserves.

From May 2013 to the end of 2014 the IOR closed 4,614 customer accounts, of which 2,600 were “dormant” accounts, 554 were relationships that did not fit into the authorized categories (”lay” accounts), and 1,460 were natural terminations (about 1,000 new accounts have been opened).

In addition, further 274 accounts are on the verge of being closed. The clients at the end of 2014 were 15,181.

The offenses that marred IOR’s reputation in the past “have been reported to the competent Vatican authorities.”

In particular, the story reported last year by the IOR which emerged as part of the internal review, involved the former president Angelo Caloia and the former general manager Lelio Scaletti for a case of alleged embezzlement of property sales between 2001 and 2008.

On the issue, there is an ongoing investigation of the Vatican's Tribunal promoter of justice or attorney, who has also seized the suspects' accounts at the IOR.

The total value of the assets under management at IOR has increased slightly to €6 billion in 2014 (at the end of 2013 it was €5.9 billion).

These assets are made up of €2.1 billion in deposits (in 2013 they were €1.9 billion), €3.2 billion in funds under management (€3.3 billion in 2013), and €0.7 billion in securities under custody (€0.8 billion in 2013). The IOR's net equity was equal to €695 million as of December 31, 2014: it was €720 million in 2013.