Australian police say no criminal misconduct in Vatican funds transfer

Australian Cardinal George Pell was the Vatican's treasurer from 2014 to 2017.
Australian Cardinal George Pell was the Vatican's treasurer from 2014 to 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - There was no evidence of criminal misconduct in the transfer of an estimated to A$9.5 million (S$9.6 million) from the Vatican to Australia between 2014 and 2020, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said on Wednesday (Feb 3).

Australia's financial intelligence unit, Austrac, last month reduced its estimate of money transfered from the Vatican to Australia from A$2.3 billion, citing a computer coding mistake.

"No criminal misconduct has been identified to date," AFP said as it completed its analysis of the information provided by Austrac about payments to Australia from the Vatican.

"If the AFP receives additional information from Australian or international partners it will be reviewed accordingly," it said in a statement.

Austrac's original report about the fund transfer, which the Vatican said sounded like "science fiction", saw some media reports speculate on possible money laundering.

Australian Cardinal George Pell, who was the Vatican's treasurer from 2014 to 2017, had said he was relieved to hear billions of dollars were not laundered through the Vatican when he was head of the Secretariat for the Economy.

Pell, who is now in Rome, returned to his native Australia in 2017 to face charges of historical sexual abuse and spent 404 days in jail before his conviction was overturned last April.