May 25, 2016 / 2:09 PM / 3 years ago

Two board members of Vatican bank quit after management dispute

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Two board members of the Vatican bank have quit following a disagreement over how the institute should be run, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said on Wednesday.

The resignation of the two highly experienced bankers, Italian Carlo Salvatori and German Clemens Boersig, raises questions about efforts to modernise the scandal-plagued bank, which is called the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR).

Reforming the IOR has been one of the most sensitive issues tackled by Pope Francis as he has sought to overhaul the complex, opaque Vatican administration, and the Church played down the abrupt departure of the two board members.

“This reflects a divergence of opinion over the management of the institute, but that is normal. It is an unusual place,” said Lombardi, without giving further details.

Salvatori and Boersig were not immediately available for comment.

However, a source with knowledge of the workings of IOR, who declined to be named, said there was frustration at the slow pace of change within the organisation over the past two years.

The two bankers were part of a six-strong lay board that was appointed in 2014, the year after Pope Francis was elected with a mandate to make the Vatican administration transparent.

The board members had a five-year mandate and were tasked with defining a new strategy for the bank, which had been accused of helping its clients to launder money and evade taxes.

“The two board members made a competent and qualified contribution in this important phase for the stability and integrity of the Institute,” a brief Vatican statement said.

Earlier this month, IOR Chairman Jean-Baptiste de Franssu said a drive to tighten financial governance had made it “impossible to launder money” at the bank.

Before joining the IOR board, Salvatori had held numerous high-rank positions in the Italian banking industry, including as CEO of Banca Intesa and chairman of Unicredit. Boersig was a former chairman of Deutsche Bank.

Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Gareth Jones

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