Friday, December 27, 2013

Vatican continues to block audit of holocaust looted assets – Dr Jonathan Levy

vaticanThe Vatican Authority for Financial Information tasked with monitoring the scandal plagued Vatican Bank continues to dodge requests to audit Vatican Bank accounts alleged to contain Holocaust era assets looted from the Balkans, says Dr Jonathan Levy from Brimstone & Co. in Washington.

Apparently, about 30 current and former Vatican Bank accounts have been identified as suspect including accounts controlled by the Franciscan Order and various Croatian Dioceses.

On December 4, 2013, the Vatican Financial Authority reached a bilateral agreement with the German Federal Criminal Police Office pledging cooperation on anti money laundering following a previous agreement with the Dutch Financial Intelligence Unit.  

Ironically, Germany and Holland have taken significant measures to deal with assets looted during the Second World War which continue to surface as in the recent case of over a billion dollars of Nazi looted artworks recovered in Munich last year.

Dr. Jonathan Levy, the attorney for several thousand claimants, Holocaust victims, their heirs, and organizations, has criticized the Vatican Financial Authority and its Director Rene Bruelhart: “Mr. Bruelhart and his immediate superior Cardinal Nicora are the ultimate insiders. They claim to be auditing accounts at the Vatican Bank but do not have the decency to respond to our repeated requests. From my point of view, they are continuing the ongoing Vatican cover up.”

Dr. Levy also noted that his firm’s investigations and ensuing litigation which commenced in 1998 has uncovered a Vatican Bank connection to looted assets from other countries including Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Levy explained, “After World War Two, there was a pressing need to move assets from Soviet occupied lands as the Iron Curtain descended on eastern Europe; changing these assets into Church property and depositing it at the Vatican Bank was an effective method however these assets often were commingled with property looted by the Nazis and Axis regimes in Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Croatia.”

The funds at stake were derived from the Ustasha Treasury, consisting of gold and valuables looted from Yugoslavia during the Second World War and deposited at the Vatican Bank in 1946 and never accounted for, according to the statement from Brimstone & Co. 

Levy has lodged a complaint with both the Dutch Financial Intelligence Unit and German Bundeskriminalamt following an unsuccessful three year effort to move the European Commission to investigate the Vatican Bank.

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