Pope Francis has replaced the Vatican's five-member financial watchdog with a new team from four countries.
Four experts from Italy, Singapore, Switzerland and the U.S. were named to the board of the Financial Information Authority. They are Juan Zarate, a former George W. Bush administration official who is now a professor at Harvard Law School; Marc Odendall, a Swiss expert who advises philanthropic organizations; Joseph Yuvaraj Pillay, former managing director of Singapore's Monetary Authority; and Maria Bianca Farina, who heads two Italian insurance firms.
They replace the five Italians on the panel.
"All five outgoing members were Italians who had been expected to serve five-year terms ending in 2016 and were laymen associated with the Vatican's discredited financial old guard. Reformers inside the Vatican had been pushing for the pope, who already has taken a series of steps to clean up Vatican finances, to appoint professionals with an international background to work with Rene Bruelhart, a Swiss lawyer who heads the AIF and who has been pushing for change. Vatican sources said Bruelhart, Liechtenstein's former top anti-money laundering expert, was chafing under the old board and wanted Francis to appoint global professionals like him."
And, The Boston Globe notes, "The pope's clean-up campaign comes amid fresh reminders of the financial scandals that have rocked the Vatican over the years, including charges that a former top official under Benedict XVI, Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, used his influence to steer almost $20 million in Vatican bank loans to a film company run by a friend, funds that were eventually lost."
The move is the latest overhaul announced by Francis since he became pope in March 2013. Earlier this year, he announced a sweeping overhaul — the first in 25 years — of the Vatican's bureaucracy.