The Vatican bank has published the first annual report in its 125-year history, as part of an attempt to become more financially transparent.
Bank President Ernst Von Freyberg said the 100-page report was an attempt to meet the commitment to transparency that Catholics around the world ‘rightfully expect’.
According to the Scotsman, a five-member committee appointed by Pope Francis, who has promised to clean up the Vatican’s financial image, is also preparing a report on how to reform the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).
The IOR said that in 2012 it had a net profit of 72 million pounds, more than four times the profit in 2011.
The report, audited by KPMG, said the huge increase in net profit was due mainly to favourable trading results and higher bond values.
It also revealed the extent of the IOR’s holdings in gold, coins and other precious metals.
The bank’s stated aim is to hold and manage money for Vatican departments, orders of priests and nuns, Catholic institutions and related entities, clergy and Vatican employees.
It has been enmeshed in scandals in the past three decades, most notably in 1982 when it was caught up in the fraudulent bankruptcy of Italy’s Banco Ambrosiano, whose president Roberto Calvi was found hanged under a bridge in London, the report said.
More recently, it has been caught up in an investigation into money laundering, which the bank denies, and the arrest of a Vatican prelate charged with money smuggling, it added.