After last month's seizure of $32 million (US) from Vatican Bank, a group of Holocaust survivors from the former Yugoslavia has asked the European Commission to look into claims that the Vatican Bank laundered valuables stolen by Nazi allies.
Jonathan Levy, a Washington-based attorney representing the survivors and their heirs wrote in a letter to EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Olli Rehn, EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Olli Rehn, “We are requesting the commission open an inquiry into allegations of money laundering of Holocaust victim assets by financial organs associated with, or which are agencies of, the Vatican City State," reported Bloomberg.
The Vatican Bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), recently won a decade long court battle in the United States in which Holocaust survivors and their heirs from the former Yugoslavia and Ukraine alleged the IOR had laundered assets stolen from Jews, Gypsies and Serbs killed or captured by the Nazi-backed regime of wartime Croatia.
The group had asked for $2 billion in restitution but the case was dismissed on grounds that the Vatican Bank enjoyed immunity under the US Foreign Service Immunities Act, which could prevent foreign governments from facing lawsuits in the United States.
Levy is now arguing the European Commission should have the ability and authority to probe the IOR as the Vatican promised to implement EU laws against money laundering, counterfeiting and fraud, in return for using the euro as legal tender within the Vatican City State.
Rome prosecutors are also looking to show that the IOR is covered under European law reports Bloomberg.
The Vatican Bank is a privately held institute located inside Vatican City run by a professional bank CEO who reports directly to a committee of cardinals, and ultimately to the Pope.
Jonathan Levy also represents the approximately 3000 surviving Duplessis Orphans, which is widely recognized as the largest case of institution-based youth sexual abuse, torture, murder, human experimentation and exploitation in Canadian history. The group had received minor compensation from the Canadian government, they are now also seeking direct compensation from the Roman Catholic organizations involved.