Troubled Vatican bank names consultant for Promontory as top manager before evaluation

VATICAN CITY – The troubled Vatican bank announced its new top manager Saturday, promoting an outside consultant who had stepped in when the bank’s top two managers resigned amid scandal last summer.

Rolando Marranci had worked for Promontory Financial Group advising the Institute for Religious Works on cleaning up its accounts when he was named acting deputy director July 1. The bank’s senior managers, Paolo Ciprianni and Massimo Tulli, had been forced out after a Vatican accountant with close ties to the bank was arrested for trying to bring 20 million euros ($26 million) into Italy from Switzerland without declaring it at customs.

At the time of the ouster, the bank’s president, Ernst Von Freyberg, was named acting director while he continued on as president and board member, a seeming conflict of interest that appears to be resolved now that Marranci has taken over day-to-day operations of the institute.

Von Freyberg remains on as president.

Marranci’s appointment was announced Saturday, days before the Vatican is due to be evaluated by the Council of Europe’s Moneyval committee on its progress complying with international norms to fight money laundering and terror financing.

The Vatican passed Moneyval’s first test in the summer of 2012 but received poor or failing grades for its financial watchdog agency and the IOR, specifically the bank’s ability to ensure that its customers and transactions were clean.

Promontory has been going through the IOR’s accounts to ensure they comply with international norms. That task was due to have been completed at the end of 2012 but has dragged on. The Holy See has also passed a series of new laws to respond to Moneyval’s recommendations ahead of the new evaluation round.

At the same time, Pope Francis named a commission of inquiry to look into the bank’s legal structure and activities as part of his overall reform of the Holy See’s finances.

Marranci, 60, retired in 2011 from Italy’s Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, where he had held several accounting positions and, among other jobs, was chief financial officer of BNL’s London branch.