Papal election puts focus on German lawyer at helm of Vatican Bank

The selection of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as Pope has placed the spotlight on a German lawyer appointed last month to head the embattled Vatican Bank.

Ernst von Freyberg
Ernst von Freyberg

Pope Benedict XVI installed Ernst von Freyberg as president of the bank as one of his last acts as pontiff following the shock announcement of his resignation earlier in February.

The appointment came after the previous president of the bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was removed by its board of directors last May for dereliction of duty.

Tedeschi and director general Paolo Cipriani were investigated over allegations that they omitted data in wire transfers from an Italian account, with prosecutors seizing €23m from a Rome bank account registered amid suspicious of money laundering, according to reports.

The bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion, was created in 1941 by Pope Pius XII to handle accounts held by religious orders, cardinals, bishops and priests. It consumed the Administration of the Works of Religion, founded in 1887.

An expert in financial regulation, von Freyberg studied law in Munich and Bonn and was admitted to the bar at the regional in Ulm.

He worked for TCR Europe Limited and Three City Research and was founder and CEO of Daiwa Corporate Advisory. He has been chairman of Blohm+Voss Group since 2012 and is a member of the supervisory board of Cologne asset management group Flossbach von Storch.

He is also a member of the advisory board of German temporary work service company Manpower.

Bergoglio was chosen by cardinals yesterday (13 March) as Pope. His appointed has received broad approval from lawyers (14 March 2013).