Vatican Restructures Scandal-Hit Bank, French Financier Is New Head

The Vatican said on Wednesday it will separate its bank's investment business from its Church payments work to try to clean up after years of scandal including allegations of money laundering and tax evasion, Reuters reported. French businessman Jean-Baptiste de Franssu was named as the new head of the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), succeeding German lawyer Ernst Von Freyberg, who has run the bank since February 2013. Freyberg, who has said he is leaving for private reasons, has introduced reforms to make the IOR more transparent and compliant with international norms against money laundering, and has closed many suspicious accounts. The Vatican also plans to increase scrutiny on one of the two sections of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, or APSA - also hit by recent scandals - that runs Vatican properties, handles income and spending, prepares budgets and acts as a central accounting department and purchasing office. Australian Cardinal George Pell, head of the Vatican's recently formed Secretariat for the Economy, told a media conference that the move was necessary in order for his department to "exercise its responsibilities of economic control and vigilance" over all Vatican departments. Read more.