According to Italian news reports, JPMorgan Chase has decided to close the Vatican’s account with the Milan branch of the banking giant because of concerns about lack of transparency at the Institute for Works of Religion, better known as the Vatican bank. Although the Vatican and JPMorgan Chase have not commented, Reuters reported on March 19 that the account closure could hamper the Vatican’s efforts to be included in Europe’s “white list” of states that comply with international standards against tax fraud and money-laundering.
In a September 2010 statement, the Vatican Secretariat of State said the Vatican bank was committed to “full transparency” in its operations.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has been not-so-secretive in its criticism of the decision. “JPMorgan Chase doesn’t have a good track record of being transparent, so it is hardly in a position to point fingers,” said Catholic League President Bill Donohue. “Worse is its selective finger-pointing: it has no problem coming to the rescue of Italy, but it is very upset with the Vatican. As they like to say, we could use a little sunshine on this issue.”