Europe

Vatican crackdown on tax cheats flagged in oversight report

  • Tommaso Di Ruzza, director of the Vatican Financial Information Authority, left, flanked by Rene Brulhart, president of the Vatican Financial Information Authority, talks to the media during a briefing to present the Vatican financial oversight report, at the Vatican,  Thursday, April 28, 2016. The Vatican's financial watchdog said Thursday it received 544 reports of suspicious financial transactions last year, thanks in part to beefed-up efforts to flag potential tax cheats who are using the Vatican bank to hide money. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

    Tommaso Di Ruzza, director of the Vatican Financial Information Authority, left, flanked by Rene Brulhart, president of the Vatican Financial Information Authority, talks to the media during a briefing to present the Vatican financial oversight report, at the Vatican, Thursday, April 28, 2016. The Vatican's financial watchdog said Thursday it received 544 reports of suspicious financial transactions last year, thanks in part to beefed-up efforts to flag potential tax cheats who are using the Vatican bank to hide money. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)  (The Associated Press)

  • Rene Brulhart, president of the Vatican Financial Information Authority, right, flanked by Tommaso Di Ruzza, director of the Vatican Financial Information Authority, shows photographers a copy of the Vatican financial oversight report, as he arrives for a briefing at the Vatican press room, Thursday, April 28, 2016. The Vatican's financial watchdog said Thursday it received 544 reports of suspicious financial transactions last year, thanks in part to beefed-up efforts to flag potential tax cheats who are using the Vatican bank to hide money. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

    Rene Brulhart, president of the Vatican Financial Information Authority, right, flanked by Tommaso Di Ruzza, director of the Vatican Financial Information Authority, shows photographers a copy of the Vatican financial oversight report, as he arrives for a briefing at the Vatican press room, Thursday, April 28, 2016. The Vatican's financial watchdog said Thursday it received 544 reports of suspicious financial transactions last year, thanks in part to beefed-up efforts to flag potential tax cheats who are using the Vatican bank to hide money. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)  (The Associated Press)

  • Rene Brulhart, president of the Vatican Financial Information Authority shows photographers a copy of the Vatican financial oversight report, as he arrives for a briefing at the Vatican press room, Thursday, April 28, 2016. The Vatican's financial watchdog said Thursday it received 544 reports of suspicious financial transactions last year, thanks in part to beefed-up efforts to flag potential tax cheats who are using the Vatican bank to hide money. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

    Rene Brulhart, president of the Vatican Financial Information Authority shows photographers a copy of the Vatican financial oversight report, as he arrives for a briefing at the Vatican press room, Thursday, April 28, 2016. The Vatican's financial watchdog said Thursday it received 544 reports of suspicious financial transactions last year, thanks in part to beefed-up efforts to flag potential tax cheats who are using the Vatican bank to hide money. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)  (The Associated Press)

The Vatican's financial watchdog says it received 544 reports of suspicious financial transactions last year, thanks in large part to beefed-up efforts to flag potential tax cheats who are using the Vatican bank to hide money.

In its annual report, the Financial Information Authority said Thursday it passed 17 cases on to Vatican prosecutors for possible investigation, up from seven a year earlier. In December, European evaluators urged prosecutors to actually bring charges in some of those cases since no indictments have been handed down.

Since 2011, 36 out of 900 suspect transactions have been forwarded to prosecutors for possible follow-up.

The Vatican in 2010 created the financial watchdog to comply with international anti-money-laundering norms and in a bid to shed its image as a financially shady tax haven.