The Vatican has created a financial watchdog agency and issued new laws to try to comply with rules to fight money-laundering and terrorist financing.
The decrees, which go into effect on April 1, were passed as the Vatican’s own bank remains implicated in a money-laundering investigation that resulted in 23 million euro (£20 million) being seized and its top two officials placed under investigation.
Pope Benedict XVI has signed the documents saying the Vatican wanted to join other countries in cracking down on legal loopholes that have allowed criminals to exploit the financial sector.
International financial organisations said it appeared the Vatican had taken a step in the right direction.
The decree creates an independent Vatican compliance watchdog, the Financial Information Authority, that is tasked with ensuring all Vatican financial transactions – including those of the Vatican bank – comply with the new laws.
The Vatican spokesman, Rev Federico Lomabardi, stressed that the new laws and creation of the compliance authority had nothing to do with the seizure of the Vatican account in September.
Rome prosecutors seized 23 million euro and placed Vatican bank chairman Gotti Tedeschi and his deputy under investigation, alleging the bank broke the law by trying to transfer money without identifying the sender or recipient. The two men have not been charged.
The Vatican has insisted the probe resulted from a “misunderstanding” that it hoped to clarify quickly. But Rome courts have twice refused to release the money.