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Vatican bank chief to go

July 8, 2014

The Holy See has announced the president of the Vatican bank must leave his post after only 16 months in office. It indicated the move came in the wake of recent efforts to clean up the bank's internal structures.

Ernst von Freyberg, Vatican bank
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

DPA news agency said Tuesday the shake-up would see its bank's president, Ernst von Freyberg (pictured above), leave after having been appointed in the final days of Benedict XVI's papacy.

Australian Cardinal George Pell, who Pope Francis chose to chair the Secretariat of Economy, said it was time "to move the bank to a second phase of reform under new leadership."

The new board of the bank, which is formally known as the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR, was expected to be announced on July 8, with French financier Jean-Baptiste de Franssu widely tipped to replace von Freyberg.

Shrinking customer base

Also on Tuesday, the Vatican bank published its 2013 accounts, which saw net profits drop to 2.9 million euros ($3.9 million) from 86 million euros in the previous year.

The IOR pointed out that it had written off 28.8 million euros in investments last year, but gave no further details.

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The bank closed thousands of client accounts in a bid to weed out suspicious transactions. It said its total number of customers fell to 15,495 from 18,900 back in 2012.

hg/cjc (Reuters, dpa)

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