French financier named to lead the Vatican’s troubled bank to carry out pope’s reform drive

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VATICAN CITY – A French financier has been appointed as the new president of the Vatican’s long-troubled bank.

As widely expected, the Vatican announced Wednesday that Jean-Baptiste de Franssu has been tapped to head the Institute of Religious Works, as the bank is formally called. De Franssu has been serving on a new Vatican economic council.

The outgoing president, a German industrialist named Ernst von Freyberg, worked to make the bank’s transactions more compliant with international banking standards after Italian money-laundering and cash-smuggling probes stung the institution.

In an interview published in German newspaper Bild, von Freyberg declared: “The bank is now clean.” Without elaborating, he said “dubious” investments resulted in costs of more than 45 million euros ($60 million).

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