PARIS - The French businessman named to head up the Vatican bank vowed Thursday that its days of scandal were a thing of the past.
Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, former chief executive of Invesco Europe, was on Wednesday put in charge of the Institute for Religious Works (IOR) -- as the bank is known.
He takes over following a year of internal investigations that resulted in the closure or suspension of thousands of suspicious, ineligible or inactive accounts.
"I believe there has been a lot of hype and focus on this institution in the past," de Franssu told France's Europe 1 radio.
"That said, there were criminal acts. But those are behind us," he said. "Today the rules are very strict."
Jean-Baptiste de Franssu (L) poses with his predecessor Ernst von Freyberg during a press. PHOTO/AFP
Allegations of money laundering have dogged the bank for decades, most famously in the early 1980s when it was the main shareholder of the Banco Ambrosiano, which collapsed in amid accusations of links with the Sicilian Mafia.
More recently the bank has been investigated for money laundering by Italian authorities, with its director general and his deputy placed under investigation and forced to resign last year.
Pope Francis has ordered a radical overhaul of the Holy See's economic framework that includes changes at the bank, at the Vatican's real estate and investment operations, at its pension fund and in its media department.