Archbishop Dominique Mamberti's Explanatory Article of Law No. XVIII

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) | 2164 hits

Dated October 8, 2013, the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State approved Law No. XVIII concerning the matter of transparency, vigilance and financial information. These norms were already in force because they were adopted urgently with the Decree No. XI of the President of the Governorate on August 8, 2013 – contextually to the Motu Proprio of Pope Francis for the prevention and the dispute  of money laundering, the financing of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – and were then confirmed definitively in law acquiring a stable character.

It is a very articulated and complex text – virtually a unique text in financial matters – that is inscribed in the course of the adjustment of Vatican legislation to the international parameters of the Financial Action Task Force – Group d’action financiere (FATF – GAFI) and to the recommendations of the Moneyval Division of the Council of Europe, usually indicated as the best normative instruments to plan an effective protection network against money laundering operations or the financing of terrorism.

Given the breadth of its contents, Law No. XVIII is not limited to replacing to a large extent Law No. CXXVII, concerning the prevention and dispute of money laundering of proceeds of criminal activities and of the financing of terrorism, of December 30, 2010 (then modified by Law No. CLXVI, of April 24, 2012), inasmuch as it also introduces further disciplines, which were altogether absent and only outlined in the preceding normative.

A first and consistent part of the law is dedicated to the Measures against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, which is developed in the detail of obligated subjects, in the activities of evaluation of risks (general and particular), in the prescriptions concerning the adequate control of opposing parties (ordinarily carried out in a manner proportionate to the risk connected to the category and to the country or geographic area of the opposing party  and to the type of operation put in place, but which becomes reinforced in the case of high risk of money laundering or the financing of terrorism) and in the discipline of the international transfer of funds.

Special attention is dedicated to giving information on suspicious activities, which obligated subjects are required to carry out before the Financial Information Authority, which in turn analyzes and deepens them, also with penetrating instructive powers. IIn the case of a valid reason to suspect activities of money laundering or financing of terrorism, the Financial Information Authority transmits a detailed report to the Promoter of Justice and may also suspend transactions and operations under suspicion for up to five working days.

The system of prescriptions regarding measures against money laundering and the financing of terrorism is completed by the attribution, again to the Financial Information Authority, of a power of general supervision in relation to the implementation of the measures established by law on the part of obligated subjects, as well as a structured system of administrative sanctions that can be applied by the Authority or, in the most serious cases, by the president of the Governorate, upon suggestion by the Financial Information Authority. The normative on the administrative sanctions contains also a return to the general discipline in the matter, the latter also of recent adoption with Law No. X, regarding general norms in the matter of administrative sanctions, of July 11, 2013.

A relevant area of the discipline introduced by Law XVIII is included in the section regarding 'Prudential supervision of bodies engaged in professional activities of a financial nature', or rather, those who regularly carry out a financial activity in an organised economic form, in the name of or on behalf of third parties, for the purposes of the production or exchange of goods or services. The introduction of this function – now attributed to the Financial Information Authority with the Motu Proprio for the prevention and the dispute of money laundering, of the financing of terrorism and of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, of August 8, 2013 – of weapons of mass destruction, of August 8, 2013 – responds to a specific recommendation from the MONEYVAL Division of the Council of Europe, and Law No XVIII establishes the discipline of this activity by conceding broad-ranging powers of regulation to the Financial Information Authority, as well as attributing to the Authority itself the vigilance in respect of the obligations and competence in the matter of administrative sanctions.

A suitable title disciplines the Measures against subjects that threaten international peace and security. Such measures were already introduced with Law No. CXXVII, but they were notably detailed in these headquarters The competence for the adoption of the list was then attributed to the President of the Governorate, while the State Secretariat (competent in the past) continues to play an essential role of coordination, by reason of its own fundamental competence in diplomatic relations with States and with the other subjects of international law (cf. Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, article 46). Enforced automatically in confrontations of subjects inscribed in the list are the prohibitions on the the provision of goods, economic resources and financial services is automatically denied to listed individuals, and the Financial Information Authority may immediately place a preventative block on their goods and resources, informing those subjects who carry out financial activities. In addition, cautionary measures may be adopted in relation to an individual not yet included on the list in the case of valid reasons to suspect that he or she poses a threat to peace and international security and provided that the subject is added to the list within fifteen-day period.

Other dispositions of Law No. XVIII are concerned again with the discipline of the trans-border transport of ready money, on entering or leaving the State, for  a total equal to or higher than 10,000 euros, and the norms in the matter of Information and cooperation, in relation to which activities a central role is attributed to the Financial Information Authority which collaborates and exchanges information both with other authorities of the Holy See and Vatican City State, and with analogous authorities in other States, in conditions of reciprocity and on the basis of agreement protocols

To gather the completeness of the normative intervention carried out with this law the contents must be read in the light of the Motu Proprio of Pope Francis, of August 8, 2013. This provision in fact, in addition to the institution and attribution to the Financial Information Authority of the function of prudential vigilance and to the institution of the Committee of Financial Security, also has the effect of extending the discipline, in the matter of opposition to money laundering and the financing of terrorism, also to the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia  and to the other organizations and entities dependent on the Holy See, as well as non-profit organizations having canonical juridical personalities and headquarters in Vatican City State (article 1), attributing the jurisdiction, in their confrontations in the matter, to the judicial organs of Vatican City State (article 3). The combined disposition of the Vatican law and of the canonical measure makes it possible therefore to extend the area of the present reform of Vatican City State to the Holy See.

If the recent normatives are considered in the matter of substantial and trial criminal law (with Laws Nos. VIII and IX of July 11, 2013), the introduction of a general law in the matter of administrative sanctions (Law No. X of July 11, 2013) and the Motu Proprio of Pope Francis on the jurisdiction of the judicial organs of Vatican City State in criminal matter, of July 11, 2013, the reforming commitment seems visible which has made it possible to reach important objectives in the course undertaken beginning with Benedict XVI’s pontificate, with the Motu Proprio for the prevention and dispute of  illegal activities in the financial and monetary field, of December 30, 2010.

This course has reached today a particularly advanced state and therefore makes it possible to look with satisfaction to the profuse commitment whose fundamental purpose is to contribute actively to the growth of the International Community at whose heart the Holy See is called to play a role of guide and example.