Church leaders unaware of transfers to Australia

Church sources cautioned the money transfers may have been for investment in the Australian bond and equities market (CNA/Bohumil Petrik)

The Vatican and its associated entities have transferred $2.3 billion to Australia since 2014 without the knowledge of senior Australian Church leaders. Source: The Australian.

Transfers from the Vatican to Australia rapidly increased from $71.6 million in 2014 to $137.1 million in 2015 before doubling again to $295m in 2016 and peaking at $581.3m in 2017, the new disclosure shows.

More than $422m was transferred in 2018, $491.8m in 2019 and $294.8m this financial year to date — in total more than 400,000 transactions, Austrac, the nation’s financial crime regulator, found.

Despite the volume and sum of transfers, several senior Church figures said yesterday they were surprised by the transfers and were not aware of the money arriving in the Australian church.

The Australian Federal Police last week confirmed it was continuing to investigate information received from Austrac about transfers to Australia from the Vatican.

The Austrac figures also show $117.4 million was sent from Australia to the Vatican, likely part of an annual fund for charities. Those transfers have risen from $17.7 million in 2014 to $32.4 million in 2019. Only $7.5 million had been transferred to date this year.

While Austrac has not disclosed the individual identities of the recipients of the money in Australia, some Church sources cautioned it may have been for investment in the Australian bond and equities market.

The new transfer figures were disclosed in response to questions from Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who said it was “a surprisingly large amount of money”.

FULL STORY

Vatican’s secret $2bn flummoxes Australian church leaders (By Dennis Shanahan, The Australian)

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