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Anti-money laundering experts inspect Vatican

VATICAN CITY (AP) — European inspectors fighting money laundering on Saturday wrapped up a week of meetings with church officials as part of ensuring that the Holy See’s law conforms with international efforts to combat financing of terrorism, the Vatican said.

The officials will issue a report that will that will be discussed by experts at the Council of Europe, likely in mid-2012, the Vatican said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Italian prosecutors ordered the release of (euro) 23 million ($33 million) seized from a Vatican Bank account as part of a money-laundering probe. Italian financial police had seized the money in September 2010, and placed the bank’s two top officials under investigation, over allegations that the bank broke the law by trying to transfer funds without identifying the sender and recipient.

The Vatican, which has denied any wrongdoing, said a misunderstanding triggered that probe. The two officials weren’t charged.

The Vatican has since issued new anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing laws to conform with European Union and international norms.

The Vatican Bank is formally called the Institute for Religious Works, and serves to manage assets placed in its care that are destined for the pope’s religious or charitable works as well as managing the pension system for thousands of Vatican employees.

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