VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s financial watchdog agency said Friday it received 147 reports of suspicious financial transactions last year, a sign that tough new anti-money laundering norms are taking hold at its scandal-marred bank.
The Financial Information Authority’s annual report showed a slight decline in the number of suspicious reports received in 2014 compared to the 202 received in 2013, when the Vatican bank was undergoing a review of all its accounts.
Of the 147 transactions that were flagged as potentially problematic in 2014, the agency forwarded seven to Vatican prosecutors for investigation. Most concerned suspected fraud or tax evasion, the report said.
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI created the agency in 2010 as a key part of a bid to clean up the Vatican’s financial house to comply with international anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing norms.
Italian prosecutors had long accused the Vatican’s bank, for example, of having such lax standards that Italians could use it to shield money from Italian tax authorities.