VATICAN CITY, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- After years of financial scandals, Pope Benedict XVI plans to set up an agency to combat money laundering, the Vatican announced Wednesday.
The pope will issue a proclamation Thursday, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. His press office said the Financial Information Authority's goal is to "prevent and combat illegal activities in the financial and monetary fields."
The Institute for Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican Bank or by its Italian acronym IOR, is currently being investigated by Italian authorities who say two transfers of money may violate a new money-laundering law. The Vatican has said the investigation is the result of a "misunderstanding."
In the 1980s, the bank became embroiled in a scandal involving Banco Ambrosiano, which laundered money for the Mafia. The Vatican Bank was Ambrosiano's biggest shareholder. Banco Ambrosiano President Roberto Calvi, nicknamed "God's Banker," was found hanging from a bridge in London in June 1982.
More recently, reports based on declassified intelligence documents have suggested the bank helped the fascist Ustashi government in Croatia smuggle out its treasury after World War II.