Australian police find no crime in Vatican money transfers

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian police said Wednesday they found no evidence of criminal misconduct in money transfers from the Vatican that a financial agency mistakenly inflated by almost $1.8 billion and fueled corruption speculation.

Australian Federal Police investigated the transfers to Australia that the country’s financial intelligence agency, Austrac, reported to the Senate in December amounted to $1.8 billion over six years.

Austrac last month revealed it had vastly overstated the sums, blaming the miscalculation on a computer coding error. The Vatican said transfers to Australia since 2014 amounted to $7.35 million and were for legitimate expenses including running its embassy and contractual debts.

Police said they had completed their analysis of the Austrac information.

“No criminal misconduct has been identified to date,” a police statement said.

Austrac’s inflated figures had fueled media speculation that money from the Holy See had helped influence the Australian criminal prosecution of Cardinal George Pell, who was convicted and then acquitted of historic child sex abuse.

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