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Jean-Baptiste de Franssu newly-appointed Vatican bank head

The Vatican has announced it has appointed a former French financier as president of its scandal-ridden IOR bank. The new man at the helm said ethical investments will be the focus of the bank's future operations.

The Vatican appointed Frenchman Jean-Baptiste de Franssu (pictured above) as president of the Institute for Religious Works (IOR) on Wednesday, hoping the new man at the helm would make a contribution in making people forget about the scandals that had hit the bank over many decades.

The IOR had been involved in a long list of irregularities, offering safe haven to the funds of Italian mobsters, politicians and entrepreneurs, thus going far beyond its remit of assisting church operations worldwide.

De Franssu pledged to return to the roots of ethically motivated financial operations.

"Catholic, ethical investment will drive how we will be managing assets on behalf of our clients," he said in a statement.

Continued reform drive

He added the future mission would be to increase the "work towards the poor and the propagation of faith."

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51-year-old de Franssu

took over from German lawyer Ernst von Freyberg

who in the less than 17 months as IOR President had already pursued major reforms, subjecting to scrutiny and subsequently shrinking the lender's customer base, closing down 3,400 accounts as a result.

The IOR is expected to become a sort of local savings bank which is to be stripped gradually of its asset management duties.

hg/sri (dpa, EPD)

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