Vatican bank clean-up wipes out profit for 2013

Pope Francis in Rome Pope Francis is set on clearing up the Vatican's finances

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The Vatican bank has seen its 2013 profit almost wiped out largely due to a clean-up process which has seen it end relationships with 3,000 customers.

The bank, known officially as the Institute for Religious Works, reported a 2.9m euro (£2.3m) profit for the year, down from 86.6m euros in 2012.

Most of its losses came from the winding up of investments made before its reform programme began.

Without these, it said profit would have been 70m euros.

Pope Francis has sought to stamp out corruption and other abuses at the Vatican bank, which handles funds for the Catholic Church.

He pledged to clean up the bank following accusations of money laundering and a lack of due diligence which allowed non-religious, and even crony, businessmen to hold accounts.

Between May 2013 until June this year, outside experts combed through all the bank's accounts in what the Vatican said was a "systematic screening of all existing customer records".

As a result, it said it had terminated 2,600 "dormant" accounts which had seen no activity for a long time, as well as 396 customers who didn't meet the criteria for doing business with the bank.

It said a further 359 customer accounts which didn't meet its criteria were in the process of being terminated.

"I repeatedly said that I would proceed with zero tolerance for any suspicious activity. We have carried out our reforms in this spirit," said the bank's President, Ernst von Freyberg.

His statement came ahead of an announcement on Wednesday which is expected to detail further expected re-structuring at the bank.

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