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Overhaul of Vatican finances begins

A new department at the Vatican has been created by Pope Francis to oversee its finances following scandals at the institution.

The new ministry would study the “organisational and economic problems of the Holy See”, said the Vatican.

An auditor will also oversee the department’s dealings, it said.

In January, Italian police reported a senior Italian cleric was charged with laundering millions through the Vatican bank.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano allegedly planned to smuggle 20m euros (£16.5m) into Italy.

Australian Cardinal George Pell will lead the new department.

The Vatican said the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, which manages the Holy See’s financial holdings, would become the Vatican’s central bank, with “all the obligations and responsibilities of similar institutions around the world”.

But the change would not immediately affect the Institute for Works of Religion, said a spokesperson.

The IOR is one of the world’s most secretive organisations. It has 114 employees and 5.4bn euros of assets.

It is undergoing a major restructuring on the orders of Pope Francis, after a commission of inquiry was set up in 2013.

He has also hired a US financial services company to examine all 19,000 accounts to ensure that international rules against money laundering are being correctly observed.

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