Maltese Court orders seizure of €29.5m of assets belonging to 'Vatican Bank'

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Maltese Court orders seizure of €29.5m of assets belonging to 'Vatican Bank'

The Maltese Civil Court has ordered the seizure of €29.5m of assets belonging to the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR, or Institute for the Works of Religion), commonly referred to as the "Vatican Bank."

The order came after Maltese companies Futura Funds and Futura Investment Management, jointly with Luxembourg-based company Cougar Real Estate, instituted court proceedings before Malta's Civil Courts against the IOR.

The Maltese and Luxembourgish firms are seeking damages for IOR's alleged blocking of a sale of shares which Futura Funds SICAV holds in Cougar, as well as the sale of shares which the latter holds in the Hungarian company, Tozsdepalota, the owner of the iconic historical building, Budapest Stock Exchange Palace.

The Malta court order marks the latest developments in an ongoing Court saga started by IOR, which is trying to renege on a €24m investment obligation in Futura Funds SICAV, entered into in 2013, only a few weeks before the unprecedented resignation of Pope Benedict XVI."

A court order was issued today directing that money or property of the IOR be seized.

In 2013, the IOR entered into contractual commitment to invest €41m in the refurbishment of the scheme. Futura is seeking financial compensation for losses related to delays on the deal and reputational damages after the IOR defaulted on its contractual commitments relating to this investment.

In security for this claim against the IOR, Futura Funds SICAV filed a garnishee order for the sum of €29.5m, which was upheld on 13th March by the Maltese Civil Courts.  

The Malta court order marks the latest developments in an ongoing Court saga started by IOR, which is trying to renege on a €24m investment obligation in Futura Funds SICAV, entered into in 2013, only a few weeks before the unprecedented resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

The election of Pope Francis led to major changes within the Vatican Bank, including, since 2013, the replacement of three chairmen, two director-generals, most of the internal senior functions and members of the Cardinals Commission.

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Christopher Copper-Ind

Christopher Copper-Ind is editor-in-chief of International Investment. Before this, he was editorial director of The Business Year, from 2014 to 2017.