di Riccardo D'Andrea
Rome, January 22 - The Vatican bank said Wednesday that it was ready to resume normal relations with Italy after making progress in measures to prevent money laundering and other financial crimes. The image of the bank, officially called the the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), has been hit by a series of scandals over the years. Italian banks effectively stopped dealing with the IOR in 2010 after the Bank of Italy ordered them to enforce strict anti-money laundering criteria to continue working with it. The Vatican has made several reforms to introduce greater financial transparency and fight money laundering since Francis was elected pope last year. In December the Council of Europe's Moneyval agency, a monitoring group of financial experts, praised the Vatican's progress, as it seeks to get on the 'white list' of countries with strong credentials on combatting financial crime. But it also stressed that more work needed to be done. "The IOR looks forward to a resumption of full interaction with Italian financial institutions pending review by Italian regulatory authorities of the Holy See/Vatican City State's anti -money laundering provisions," read a IOR press release on a status report on the reform process by its Board of Superintendence. "The IOR has implemented further reforms to enhance its overall risk management function and to allow for a high level of transparency for the overall process". In June Francis has nominated a pontifical commission to make proposals on the future of the bank. "I would like to thank our employees who have responded with great dedication and professionalism to ambitious targets set by IOR's management in the past year," said IOR President Ernst von Freyberg.