The Vatican gendarmerie on Tuesday searched offices of the first section of the Secretariat of State and the financial regulator AIF. As Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni later announced, documents and computers were seized.
The action, authorized by Vatican Prosecutor Gian Piero Milano, was related to charges filed by the Vatican Bank IOR and the Auditor General last summer, according to the report. It had been about "financial actions over time". The respective office managers had been informed, said Bruni. Further details were not mentioned.
The action is unusual because the Secretariat of State is considered the heart of Vatican administration and diplomacy. The AIF is supposed to watch over the legality of financial actions of the Holy See. The seizures at the Secretariat of State reportedly involved the department that maintains contacts with the Holy See's diplomatic missions worldwide.
Pope calls for more transparency in Vatican finances
Pope Francis has been trying to reorganize the rules governing the financial conduct of the Vatican Curia and the Holy See since the beginning of his term about six years ago. He called for more transparency and adherence to international standards. However, key offices that have been created or strengthened in this context are not filled or are filled only with a transitional acting head.
For example, since the leave of absence of Cardinal George Pell, who has since been convicted in his native Australia of sexually abusing two boys, the economic secretariat has not had an acting head since June 2017. The Auditor General's anti-corruption office has also been under provisional leadership since June 2017.