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Letter to European Commission asking for action

The new Vatican body, the AIF (Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria), meant to provide financial oversight and transparency, was set up at the beginning of 2011. However, it appears to have taken over the delay tactics of the Vatican Bank, with whom it shares a number of officials. Letters and a fax to the AIF from Dr. Jonathan Levy, the lawyer representing victims of the Croatian Holocaust have not been answered. Every year more and more of the aged survivors die off and the Vatican Bank appears to be playing for time. 

European Commission to Take Legal Action against Vatican in Holocaust Money Laundering Case

28 November 2011 
Vatican Bank Holocaust Litigation
Dr. Jonathan Levy, PhD

Washington DC: When the European Commission referred a long running Holocaust money laundering case against the Vatican Bank to the newly organized Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria, the Vatican agency tasked with anti money laundering, it left open the possibility of legal action by the European Commission against the Vatican.

Now the attorney for over a thousand claimants is asking the European Commission to take action after the Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria deliberately ignored his complaint. Dr. Jonathan Levy is accusing the Vatican of misfeasance and violating European anti money laundering laws. The Vatican is an associate member of the Eurozone (it issues Euros) and part of the European Anti Money Laundering regime through the Vatican Bank and must adhere to certain Directives.

Levy states the Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria is merely continuing a long running fight against an audit of certain accounts at the Vatican Bank belonging to the Franciscan Order and the Diocese of Zagreb. Levy first made his request for an accounting in 1999 and went on to sue the Vatican Bank and Franciscan Order. The case was dismissed in 2010 after a United States appeals court stated it had no jurisdiction.

In correspondence earlier this year from the European Commission, an official indicated the European Commission could institute legal proceedings against the Vatican City State if it violates European anti money laundering Directives. (Benjamin Angel to Jonathan Levy, January 4, 2011).

According to Levy, the Vatican cannot continue to ignore post war money laundering allegations of gold looted from former Yugoslavia: “While we do not dispute the Vatican state answers solely to its God in matters of faith, in matters of finance the laws of Man apply.”

The Letter

November 28, 2011

European Commission
Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs
Financial Stability & Monetary Affairs
Financial Institutions & Financial Stability
Head of Unit
Mr. Benjamin Angel
B-1049 Brussels
Fax: (+32) 2 29 809 98

Via Fax, Email and Mail

In re: (Vatican) Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria (AIF) & Eu/Vatican Monetary Agreement and European Commission Letter of January 5, 2011 (ref. no 93 l9)

Dear Mr. Angel:

On January 5, 201I following a series of letters with the EU Commission and the European Central Bank, you referred our allegations of post World War Two era money laundering of assets from former Yugoslavia by current and past account holders at the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) to the Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria (AIF) which was just formed at the beginning of 201l.

The AIF has refused to acknowledge or respond to our correspondence dated ]uly 2, 2011 and September 24, 2011. We also attempted to fax the AIF on September 2, 2011. Based on my prior dealings with Vatican agencies and organs, I can only conclude this is yet again deliberate nonfeasance by the AIF to avoid taking jurisdiction. I note some AIF officers are former or current officials of the IOR. This behaviour is completely inappropriate for an agency [which] purports to carry out harmonization and anti money laundering and anti terrorism provisions of EU, COE and Eurozone fiscal policies.

The behaviour of the AIF however is 100% consistent with the IOR's 10 year legal battle in the United States federal courts in the case Alperin v. Vatican Bank and OFM, United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. CV-99-04941-MMC. Maxine M. Chesney, District Judge, Presiding. The IOR spared no expense or legal argument in ultimately preventing a federal court from exercising jurisdiction over it and its confederate, the Franciscan Order. This bolsters the argument that the IOR and AIF should be held accountable under anti money laundering regimes. The Vatican state by engaging in international banking through the IOR, purporting to carry out EU anti money laundering and anti terrorism directives through the AIF and as a member of the Eurozone, must by necessity follow the applicable laws and may not hold itself above the law.

As you may know from our previous correspondence to the EU Commission, our firm represents over a thousand individuals of Serb, Jewish, and Roma descent worldwide with the majority resident in Serbia. We represent individuals resident in the European Union including Sweden and the United Kingdom. We also represent several organizations including the Jasenovac Memorial Society, Independent Council of Serbian Roma, and the Republik of Srpska Krajina in Exile, all of Belgrade, Serbia and the A merican non profit corporation, Jasenovac Research Institute. Our clients are well into their second decade of legal struggle and many of the original victims have unfortunately passed on without closure. We appreciate that the European Commission has indicated t hat within the framework of EU law it does have authority to initiate legal or other actions against the Vatican.

Therefore we unequivocally request the European Commission to investigate the alleged institutional shortcomings of the AIF in general and if necessary hold the AIF accountable for its willful failure to address our legitimate money laundering allegations.

In the attached exhibits we have identified several IOR accounts that even now may still hold remnants or profits derived from the Ustasha treasury. The IOR and at least one of the account holders, the Franciscan Order, have categorically refused to cooperate. The AIF refuses to respond. Any further attempts by us to bring this matter before AIF appear to be futile, absent a cogent explanation from AIF about their handling of our correspondence.

Therefore, on behalf of our clients we allege the following:

l. The structure and personnel of the AIF prevent it from functioning as an independent authority;
2. The AIF as a practice does not answer correspondence the Vatican deems objectionable;
3. The AIF's nonfeasance in our particular matter is an indication of institutional failure to comply with applicable EU Directives.

We ask that the European Commission take appropriate action, including using its good offices to resolve this matter.

It is our position that financial institutions must behave in an ethical and legal manner. While we do not dispute [that] the Vatican state answers solely to its God in matters of faith, in matters of finance the laws of Man apply.

Respectfully submitted,

Dr. Jonathan Levy, PhD
Attorney and Solicitor


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