p>On the 3-month anniversary of his election, June 13, it was reported that Pope Francis selected an official from McKinsey & Co. “to design that reform of the Curia (the Vatican bureaucracy) which everyone expects from Pope Francis.”
McKinsey is one of the market-leading ‘Big Three’ management consulting services to the Fortune 500 set, along with Bain & Company and The Boston Consulting Group…. In February 2011, McKinsey surveyed 1,300 US private-sector employers on their expected response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 30 percent of respondents said they anticipated they would probably or definitely stop offering employer sponsored health coverage after the ACA went into effect in 2014. These results, published in June 2011 in the McKinsey e-Quarterly, became “a useful tool for critics of the ACA and a deep annoyance for defenders of the law” according to an article in TIME Magazine. Supporters of healthcare reform argued the survey far surpassed estimates by the Congressional Budget Office [and] criticized the survey’s methodology, arguing it used slanted questions, cherry-picked information and had uninformed recipients.
A meeting was held on June 20 among a group of cardinals, the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs, with the heads of Vatican departments, dicasteries, congregations, tribunals, councils, “offices,” and foundations whose finances they supervise and control including the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA). APSA administers the Vatican’s property and investment portfolios as well as issuing the pay checks.
“Huge Eurobank, rated ‘Britain’s worst,’ now accused of gouging U.S. consumers” – The accusations are as outrageous as they are plentiful: Hundreds of “robocalls” – in one case, 800 to a single person – to collect auto loan debts; illegal repossession of cars from active duty military deployed overseas; late fees assessed three years after the fact and then compounded into $2,000 or $3,000 bills; harassing calls to friends, neighbors, co-workers – even children – on cell phones. And now, a flurry of lawsuits filed around the country, and lawyers fighting over potential clients.
The defendant in the lawsuits is Europe’s largest bank, Banco Santander S.A., which is preparing to make a big push into U.S. retail banking.
Having a global giant like Santander which bills itself as having “the largest network of international banking offices” to handle the Vatican’s banking needs while the Vatican Bank (or IOR for Istituto per le Opere di Religione) is still under investigation by Italian authorities would certainly be useful.
On June 26, Pope Francis established a Pontifical Commission to do “an in-depth inquiry into both the legal position and the activities” of the IOR. Francis chose Spanish Opus Dei Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, as the commission’s coordinator.
One of the five members is Mary Ann Glendon, appointed by Bush 43 as ambassador to the Holy See. Glendon has sat on the board of Bill Donohue’s Catholic League and several neocon “think tanks.”
Another American member is Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells, who was appointed last year to a Vatican media “crisis unit” along with Greg Burke, a member of Opus Dei and former Fox News reporter, to handle the VatiLeaks scandal. “Glendon and Wells have strong personal connections to fellow American Carl Anderson” a member of the IOR board of directors and Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, known for funding anti-gay and anti-choice campaigns.
(The Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported over the weekend of June 15/16 that Italy’s financial authorities had asked the Vatican for information about Msgr. Nunzio Scarano’s IOR account. The announcement of the new commission was made on the same day prosecutors in Salerno placed Scarano, a Vatican accountant, under investigation for alleged money-laundering through his IOR account. Scarano was arrested on June 28 and the IOR’s director and deputy director, who are under investigation by Italian magistrates, resigned on July 1. Their decision came after the embarrassing revelation that Scarano’s illicit use of his IOR account was approved by the IOR’s directors.)
Pope Francis established another Pontifical Commission on July 18 “to reform the Vatican’s economic and administrative departments.” This eight-member commission is composed of lay persons, already “eminent consultants or reviewers for Vatican or ecclesiastical economic institutions,” although the secretary is the Spanish Opus Dei Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, secretary of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs. The commission “has the authority to intervene in the financial running of other Vatican institutions.” Members include:
Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui (Italy), public relations expert at Ernst & Young and a member of Opus Dei.
Jochen Messemer (Germany) and Joseph F.X. Zahra (Malta) are auditors for Prefecture for the Economic Affairs. Zahra, currently chairman of Middlesea Insurance Co Ltd will lead the group. MAPFRE, “the leading insurance company in Spain and the largest non-life insurance company in Latin America” owns a controlling interest in Middlesea and is referred to in the insurance market as a branch of Opus Dei.
(Sept 12: “[A]fter international banking giants JPMorgan Chase and HSBC closed the Vatican’s accounts around the world to reduce the risk of money laundering…Ugandan police received a message from Interpol regarding the unauthorized ‘transfer’ of about $800,000 from the Vatican Bank to four Ugandan banks….Ugandan citizen Esther Nobasa has appeared in the Mbarara District Court, near Kampala, after she allegedly received large sums of money from the Vatican Bank.” A Sunday Times report said “a branch of Malaysia’s Standard Chartered in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, has also been linked to the investigation.”)
Pope Francis appointed the Promontory Financial Group on Oct. 15 to investigate APSA following accusations of corruption made during the investigation of Msgr. Scarano by Italian financial authorities.
IOR president Ernst von Freyberg had already hired Promontory Financial Group, at “well above seven digits” to help him investigate account holders. “Promontory employees now comprise 25 percent of the IOR staff.” Rolando Marranci, one of Promontory’s Vatican consultants, former CFO for Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, BNP Paribas’s Italian subsidiary, and CFO of BNL’s London Branch is the new IOR director.
At a U.S. Federal Reserve foreclosure review meant to provide compensation to abused homeowners:
Whistleblowers from Bank of America came forward to provide compelling evidence that the bank and its independent consultant, Promontory Financial Group, attempted to suppress evidence that borrowers had been harmed by the false and deceptive practices of the mortgages lenders.
….Promontory’s activities focus heavily on the adept circumvention of regulations.
On Oct. 15, the pope appointed Irish “master of the universe” Peter Sutherland to head another “supervisory board” for APSA. International financier Bob McCann, chief executive of UBS America, is a member.
At a Vatican meeting with Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See in July, Sutherland outlined “the macro- economic situation and the investment policies” of APSA.
Sutherland is managing director and chairman of Goldman Sachs International, former chairman of BP Oil, European chairman of the Trilateral Commission and on the steering committee for this year’s Bilderberg Conference. While Sutherland hasn’t admitted Opus Dei membership, he served on the International Advisory Board of IESE, the graduate business school of Opus Dei’s flagship University of Navarra.
It was announced on Nov. 18 that Ernst & Young will do an audit of the internal finances of the Vatican City State. The government of the Vatican City State handles necessities like the utilities and maintenance for the territory and operates the Vatican museums, post office, convenience stores etc.
Ernst & Young has agreed to pay $99 million to former Lehman Brothers investors who have accused the auditor of helping Lehman misstate its financial records before the investment bank’s collapse triggered a financial crisis in 2008.
A month later, the Vatican said McKinsey and Co. would make recommendations on how to make communications “more functional, efficient and modern.” The Vatican has a press office, newspaper, radio and television broadcaster, website, Twitter account, Pontifical Council for Social Communications, a publishing house – all connected with one of the largest global media empires.
KPMG was hired to help “align the accounting procedures of all agencies of the Holy See with international standards.”
Auditors, such as KPMG International, enabled the [financial] crisis to metastasize at an accelerated rate. KPMG was the auditor for the key players in the mortgage crisis, including Fannie Mae, Countrywide Financial and New Century Mortgage.
Compare all this feverish activity to protect and prosper his assets with what Pope Francis has done to protect our children. On Dec. 4 he stonewalled a request from the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) for information on cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers or nuns and received the first negative publicity concerning his pontificate. Two days later, he said he was appointing a commission to study the problem although every group of survivors, their advocates, lawyers and law enforcement officials already know exactly what needs to be done. The commission still hasn’t happened.