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Business

Vatican bank clean-up pays off as profit soars

After years of scandals, ranging from money laundering to tax evasion, Vatican City looks on track to get its financial house in order. The Holy See-based bank has posted a sharp rise in profits.

The Vatican's scandal-plagued bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), said on Monday it earned 69.3 million euros ($76 million) in 2014, or nearly 24 times the profit it reported the year before.

The IOR said the strong turnaround was the result of a concerted effort to clean up its finances, launched in 2013, which included closing 4,614 non-church related accounts, toughening regulatory standards and focusing more closely on improving returns for its customers. These include religious orders and charities, as well as Church offices.

"The main focus is on fundamentally improving our overall client service standards and further professionalizing our asset management services,"

IOR chairman Jean-Baptiste de Franssu

said in a statement.

The overhaul was ordered by Pope Francis, who, in a break with the past, appointed an outsider to run the opaque finances of the Holy See: Australian cardinal George Pell.

It followed years of allegations of financial malpractice, which included money-laundering for Italian mobsters, corrupt politicians and tax-evading clients.

The IOR said it would donate 55 million euros of its profits to the Vatican's main budget and invest the remaining 14.3 million euros in its retained earnings reserve.

pad/sri (dpa, Reuters)

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