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Vatican bank shakeup expected as Pope Francis mulls reform

Vatican City: The embattled Vatican bank is heading into a new round of turmoil, with the resignations of its president and board expected soon as Pope Francis mulls how to reform the institution blamed for some of the Vatican's biggest financial scandals, news reports and people familiar with the decisions said.

 Vatican bank shakeup expected as Pope Francis mulls reform

The Vatican Bank. AFP

It was this time last year that the top two managers at the Institute for Religious Works were forced out after a Vatican monsignor with millions deposited in the bank was arrested in an alleged money-smuggling plot.

They were soon replaced, but another round of resignations is expected in the coming days as Francis and his eight cardinal advisers meet to decide the bank's future, according to Italian news reports and two people familiar with the decisions.

The bank's current president, Ernst Von Freyberg, was appointed in February 2013 in one of Pope Benedict XVI's final acts in office. He has never been received in audience by Francis, who was elected on a mandate of financial and bureaucratic reform.

Italian newsweekly L'Espresso reported last week that Von Freyberg would soon resign, citing a clash with Francis' personal liaison to the bank over access to information.

A bank spokesman, Max Hohenberg, declined to comment yesterday, saying only that the bank was working on its annual report.

An official familiar with the bank's operations also said Von Freyberg was expected to resign. A separate Vatican official said that beyond Von Freyberg, a broader shake-up was expected next week.

Both requested anonymity because they are not authorised to speak publicly about internal discussions.

The five-year terms of the majority of the bank's five-member board expire in the fall, signalling they too will be leaving.

Next week, the Vatican's new economy minister, Cardinal George Pell, convenes his new economy council, formed to oversee and rationalise the Vatican's finances.

Associated Press

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Updated Date: Jul 02, 2014 07:54:53 IST