Pursuing transparency, Vatican orders external audit of assets

VATICAN CITY The Vatican said on Saturday it had ordered the first external audit of its assets as portion of a drive by Pope Francis to bring transparency to its finances where millions of euros have gone unrecorded without having any central oversight.

Papal spokesman Federico Lombardi mentioned auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers [PWC.UL] would begin perform instantly.

The pope has promised to overhaul the Vatican’s murky economic management, which have been hit by repeated scandals in recent years, nevertheless he has met resistance from Church officials who want to sustain tight control over operations.

Lombardi told reporters that the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy had called on PwC, the world’s second-largest audit firm by income, to overview the Vatican’s consolidated financial statements, which includes assets, revenue and expenditures.

The choice to operate with 1 of the world’s best 4 auditors continued “the implementation of new financial management policies and practices in line with international requirements,” he stated.

A Vatican financial statement this year revealed that Vatican departments had stashed away 1.1 billion euros ($ 1.2 billion) of assets that were not declared on any balance sheet.

The head of the economy secretariat, Cardinal George Pell, said last year that departments had “tucked away” millions of euros and followed “lengthy-established patterns” in jealously managing their affairs without having reporting to any central accounting workplace.

Pope Francis picked Pell, an outsider from the English-speaking planet, to oversee the Vatican’s frequently muddled finances soon after decades of handle by Italian clergy.

Since the pope’s election in March, 2013, the Vatican has enacted key reforms to adhere to international financial standards and stop income laundering.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer Editing by Richard Balmforth)