The FT notes this morning that:
A stand-off between two titans of finance, the Bank of Italy and the Vatican, has forced tourists to abandon their visits to the Sistine Chapel – unless they have cash in their pockets.
Italy’s central bank has blocked all electronic payments through cash machines and by credit cards in Vatican City following the world’s smallest state’s failure to fully comply with international anti-money laundering rules.
It would be nice to dismiss this as a storm in a communion chalice, but it isn’t. The Vatican has a serious bank, which has had serious problems before. And its social teaching comes to little if it can’t be bothered, or is not willing, to dedicate the resources to complying with the rules meant to stop crime.
And curiously the answer from the Bank of Italy is the absolutely correct one: those places that will not properly comply with anti-money laundering rules (and tax evasion is money laundering) should have their access to international banking cut off. And I don’t just mean their cash machines: I mean their banks should be cut off. They’d soon come into line.