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Published by: Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford
Originally published in: 2018
Version: 7 November 2018
Length: 26 pages
Data source: Published sources

Abstract

The Vatican Bank was central to the global mission of the Catholic Church, helping move money where it was most needed to meet the Church's objectives. The bank largely operated outside the global financial regulatory system. This arrangement had historically enabled the Church to operate where others could not, for instance to support the pro-democracy Solidarnosc (solidarity) movement in communist Poland. In recent years, however, the bank's culture of secrecy had gained notoriety for enabling financial irregularities. Rene Bruelhart, a Swiss lawyer who had previously helped reform Lichtenstein's banking system, was appointed in 2012 as director of the Financial Information Authority (the Vatican's financial regulator) to address the concerns and scandals at the Vatican Bank. As a relative outsider to the tradition-bound Vatican, Bruelhart considered his options. How broadly or narrowly should he define his objectives? How should he pace his reform in a setting that was resistant to external interference? How could he build a constructive dialogue with both internal and external stakeholders?

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for postgraduate courses.

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2013.

Geographical setting

Region:
Europe
Country:
Vatican City

Featured protagonist

  • Rene Bruelhart (male), Director of the Financial Information Authority of the Vatican City

About

Abstract

The Vatican Bank was central to the global mission of the Catholic Church, helping move money where it was most needed to meet the Church's objectives. The bank largely operated outside the global financial regulatory system. This arrangement had historically enabled the Church to operate where others could not, for instance to support the pro-democracy Solidarnosc (solidarity) movement in communist Poland. In recent years, however, the bank's culture of secrecy had gained notoriety for enabling financial irregularities. Rene Bruelhart, a Swiss lawyer who had previously helped reform Lichtenstein's banking system, was appointed in 2012 as director of the Financial Information Authority (the Vatican's financial regulator) to address the concerns and scandals at the Vatican Bank. As a relative outsider to the tradition-bound Vatican, Bruelhart considered his options. How broadly or narrowly should he define his objectives? How should he pace his reform in a setting that was resistant to external interference? How could he build a constructive dialogue with both internal and external stakeholders?

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for postgraduate courses.

Settings

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2013.

Geographical setting

Region:
Europe
Country:
Vatican City

Featured protagonist

  • Rene Bruelhart (male), Director of the Financial Information Authority of the Vatican City

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