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June 26, 2017

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The Vatican appoints new chief to their scandal-dogged bank

VATICAN CITY--The Vatican on Wednesday named a French businessman to head up its scandal-plagued bank as part of a radical overhaul of the Holy See's economic framework ordered by Pope Francis.

Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, former chief executive of Investco Europe, will lead a newly streamlined bank following a year of internal investigations which resulted in the closure or suspension of thousands of suspicious, ineligible or inactive accounts.

"Our ambition is to become something of a model for financial management rather than cause for occasional scandal," Vatican finance minister Cardinal George Pell told journalists.

Franssu himself said he was "looking forward to continuing the efforts of transparency."

The appointment comes just a day after the bank said profits last year had been all but wiped out in its efforts to clean up its accounts.

A team of financial experts — including Franssu and an American consultancy firm — have been preparing the ground for the reforms since last summer, when Francis vowed to make the Vatican's public finances fully transparent following decades of scandal and intrigue.

The reforms also affect the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) — the department in charge of real estate and sovereign bonds investments — as well as the Vatican's pension fund and the media department, a statement said.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Franssu commented on the bank's recent troubles.

"It is obvious that when men of the Church, priests, bishops and cardinals are in charge of a financial institution, it is not their primary activity. This is not where they received most of their training," he said.

Reforms 'stage two'

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