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Vatican suspends bank card payments

Jan 03 2013 15:59 Sapa-AFP
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Pope Benedict XVI looks at a chess game offered by Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara during a private audience at the Vatican. (AFP)

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Rome - The Bank of Italy has suspended all bank card payments in the Vatican including for tickets to its famous museum until further notice because of a failure to fully implement anti money laundering legislation, Italian media reported on Thursday.

The payments have been suspended since January 1 after the Bank of Italy ordered Deutsche Bank Italia, which handles bank card payments on Vatican territory, to deactivate its terminals because of a lack of authorisation for the transactions.

The Vatican museum, which was visited by five million tourists last year who paid a total of €91.3m ($120m), will now be asking for payments in cash, La Repubblica daily reported.

The reports quoted Italian central bank sources saying the Vatican does not respect international anti money laundering norms and an Italian-registered bank such as Deutsche Bank Italia can therefore not operate on its territory.

The suspension also includes payments at the Vatican pharmacy, the post office and a few shops that operate in the world's tiniest state.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said contacts were underway with other operators and the suspension of bank card payments should be "short-lived", Corriere della Sera reported.

Pope Benedict XVI has vowed greater transparency in Vatican finances and the operations of its bank, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), which has been infiltrated by organised crime in the past.

Moneyval, a group of experts from the Council of Europe, said last year that the Vatican had made huge strides in adapting its legislation to new rules but that a lot of work remained to be done.

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