Vatican City denies problems that led to credit card block
By Philip Pullella, ReutersVATICAN CITY--The Vatican insisted on Sunday that it had taken adequate measures to combat money laundering and so could not understand why the Bank of Italy had blocked the use of credit and debit cards inside Vatican City.
January 15, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
The central bank stopped Deutsche Bank Italy from providing electronic payment services for the Vatican on Jan. 1 because the Holy See was seen as lacking anti-money-laundering controls and oversight, a move that left thousands of tourists visiting the Vatican museums and gift shops in the lurch, forcing them to use cash.
“I am truly surprised,” Rene Bruelhart, the head of the Vatican's Financial Information Authority (FIA), told the Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview Vatican Radio posted on its website.
Bruelhart, 40, said the Holy See had implemented EU-required controls and did not understand the action.
“The reality is that, considering the particular nature of the Vatican City State, adequate measures have been adopted for vigilance, prevention, and fighting money laundering and financing terrorism,” he said.
The Bank of Italy said Deutsche Bank had installed machines for payment with credit and debit cards in the Vatican — a tiny city-state surrounded by Rome — without Italian permission after an agreement with another bank expired.
The sale of postage stamps, memorabilia and admission tickets to the Vatican Museums, home to art treasures including Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes, are a significant source of income for the Holy See, along with donations and investments.
In 2011, 5 million museum visitors brought in 91.3 million euros (US$122 million), according to the city-state's annual financial report, in which it posted its worst budget deficit in more than a decade.