By David Kerr
The President of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, has been fired from his post following a vote of no-confidence by the bank’s supervisory board.
“Over time this area had generated increasing worries among the members of the board and, despite repeated efforts to communicate these concerns to Professor Gotti Tedeschi, President of the Works of Religion, the situation deteriorated further,” read a communiqué issued by the Vatican May 25.
“Following discussion of the issues, the board members voted unanimously in favor of a motion expressing no confidence in the president for not having carried out various responsibilities of primary importance regarding his office.”
The exact nature of the alleged failures was not detailed in the communiqué.
“I am torn between the anxiety to explain the truth and not wanting to disturb the Holy Father,” Gotti Tedeschi told Italian news agency ANSA on May 25 following his departure.
“My love for the Pope also prevails above the defense of my reputation so cravenly called into question.”
Gotti Tedeschi, 67, had been head of the Vatican Bank, also known as the Institute for Works of Religion, since 2009. His appointment was widely seen as attempt by the Vatican to become more transparent in its financial dealings.
In July, the Council of Europe is expected to decide on the bid by the Vatican to be placed on the organization’s “White List” of countries adhering to their strict code of financial ethics.
Those efforts seemed to take a setback in 2010 when the Italian authorities temporarily seized $30 million from the Vatican Bank. It was alleged the bank had not complied with Italian laws requiring the disclosure of information about account holders and beneficiaries.
In response the Vatican created a Financial Information Authority in 2011 to scrutinize and police the financial and commercial dealings of all Vatican agencies, including the Vatican Bank.
In recent months, however, the Vatican has again been dogged by allegations of fraud following the leak of sensitive internal documents to the Italian press.
Gotti Tedeschi has had a long career in finance, having previously served as the head of Italian operations for Banco Santander, the largest private bank in Europe. He is also a former professor of financial ethics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.
Following his departure the board of the Vatican Bank said it is now “now looking ahead to the search for a new and distinguished president” who can help the bank “regain effective and wider relations between the institute and the financial community based on the shared respect of accepted international banking standards.”
That search will begin today with a meeting of the Commission of Cardinals. In the interim, the presidency will be assumed by the bank’s vice-president Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz.