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Vatican: German lawyer appointed new bank director

last update: February 15, 11:17

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Vatican City, 15 Feb. (AKI) - The Vatican bank has appointed a new director, German lawyer Ernst von Freyberg, well-placed sources have told Adnkronos. The bank had been under the interim leadership of its vice-president since the supervisory board fired Freyberg's predecessor in May 2012 for alleged mismanagement.

The appointment of 54-year-old Von Freyberg, is the last to be made by Pope Benedict XVI, who in a surprise move this week announced he would resign on 28 February due to old age and failing health.

Speculation had grown on Thursday over the identity of the new president of the controversial Vatican bank or Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), after the Holy See refused to confirm media reports that the Belgian Bernard De Corte had been appointed to the post.

Von Freyberg was selected by management consultancy firm Spencer and Stuart.

He founded the Frankfurt-based financial services company Daiwa Corporate Advisory and is a member of the 900-year-old Catholic Order of the Knights of Malta.

Former IOR president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was was ousted by the bank's board of five cardinals in late May last year for allegedly failing to clean up the image of the bank after a major money-laundering scandal.

Rome prosecutors put had Gotti Tedeschi, and his deputy under formal criminal investigation in 2010 after receiving a tip-off from the Bank of Italy about possible money laundering.

In September last year, the Vatican hired a Swiss anti-money-laundering lawyer in its bid to enter a 'white list' of states judged to respect international standards on fighting money laundering and terrorism financing.

The bank was involved two decades ago in one of the most spectacular banking collapses in Italy and investigators have long harboured suspicions that the bank has breached anti-money-laundering norms.

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