All recent talk of the Vatican has revolved around the new anti-money laundering unit, set up internally after the Guardia di Finanza seized anywhere between 20 and 30 million euros to really set the cat amongst the pigeons. Head of Vatican Bank and Santander (Italy) chairman, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, is under investigation. Attempts to drag l’Istituto per le Opere di Religione into line with Italian financial laws need look no further than Vatican Bank ATM’s which are in Latin. An innocent cash withdrawal will spell out ‘deductio ex pecunia’. Yes, very peculiar. And that’s not all. Rumours abound of at least one account with Mafia connections and what with a huge list of clients the Vatican Bank wants to keep private, God really does only know the details of dearly departed millions, the last batch of which was heading for Germany and a high street bank here in Italy called ‘Fucino’.
The possibility of hundreds of millions of euros having gone astray from the Vatican Bank is a fascinating prospect. It would highlight the relevance of tax police patrols, which are highly visible on the way to St Peter’s Square from every direction every God given day, reassuring visitors that tour guides and gatherers in the area have the necessary permits to work in Italy. They issue occasional fines for a few hundred euros to those who don’t.
So how will this affect tourists and indeed anyone else intent on seeing the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel? It may be used as an excuse for yet another increase in Vatican ticket prices, which is something we have done our level best to keep in check, by lowering the cost of all our Vatican tours for everyone.
It’s a pity that the Vatican seems to be embroiled in one scandal after another, mirroring the hapless misadventures of Silvio Berlusconi, whose outrageous antics have made Italy a laughing stock for as long as anyone can care to remember. Who knows, at some future time a Berlusconi tour, perhaps visiting the many places in Rome where his legendary misdemeanours made headline news, could rival the historical scandals of the papacy.