Vatican bank issues detailed report, including where it stores its gold

By  Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
  • July 15, 2014

VATICAN CITY - One week after publishing highlights of its 2013 financial statement, the Institute for the Works of Religion -- commonly called the Vatican bank -- released a 107-page, detailed financial report for the year.

The first statement, released July 8, said the institute's net profit for 2013 was only 2.9 million euros ($3.9 million) compared to 2012 net profits of 86.6 million euros ($117.7 million).

The detailed report released July 15 and published on the institute's website -- www.ior.va -- is packed with charts, tables and explanations of the institute's focus, its investment policies, the division of its assets and detailed information about its expenses, including contributions to employee pensions.

It also contains some curiosities:

-- The main depository for the Vatican's gold is the U.S. Federal Reserve, while medals and precious coins (valued at close to 9.9 million euros) are kept in IOR vaults. A "significant decline" in the price of gold meant that the value of the Vatican's gold fell to 20 million euros in 2013 from almost 28.3 million euros in 2012.

-- The bank's officers have almost 3.2 million euros in four funds set up for charitable purposes, including one to support religious orders in missionary work. Only the "Fund for Holy Masses" reported distributing money in 2013; it gave out 59,000 euros.

-- The institute is the sole owner of an Italian-registered company, SGIR, which has 21.7 million euros in equity. The report describes SGIR as a real estate company.

-- Speaking of real estate, the report said the institute's operating expenses included a "provision of 1 million euros payable to the owner of the building in which the IOR conducts business." The bank is based in the 15th-century Tower of Nicholas V on the eastern edge of the Apostolic Palace.

-- The bank has 250.7 million invested in external funds; 99 percent of the money is invested in funds that have their legal headquarters in Europe, while the remaining 1 percent are based in the United States.

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