The Wages of (Denouncing) Sin

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The faithful gathered at St. Peter's Square. / REUTERS
It appears that the taint of corruption persists at the Vatican.

The Vatican’s new ambassador to Washington – Archbishop Carolin Maria Vigano –  reportedly came to the position after having sent Pope Benedict XVI a letter denouncing corruption and waste at the Holy See, according to the Italian media.

His transfer from the Vatican to the United States was, in his words, a “punishment” for an anti-corruption campaign that had put him at loggerheads with Vatican bureaucracy, and forced his reassignment across the ocean last October.  Prior to his arrival in Washington, Vigano had been secretary-general of the Vatican, a top position that put him in charge of its administration.

The Italian media is now reporting on Vigano’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering to avoid his transfer to Washington, a demotion in the Vatican pecking order. The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and Libero, a civic anti-corruption organization, published excerpts of a letter Vigano wrote to the Pope last March, in which as he tried to hold on to his position by warning of corruption within the Holy See. Vigano has been a critic of officials of the Vatican Bank, who he said favored their own interests over those of the Vatican. His reforms on contracts, he added, saved the church millions of dollars.

The Vatican Bank has long come under criticism for its secrecy. As recently as 2010, Italian officials investigated the bank for money-laundering.

In his letter the Pope, Vigano said that “my transfer is causing disarray and discouragement among those who believed it was possible to resolve the numerous situations of corruption and waste” in the Vatican.

Sweep to Top archbishop “denounces Vatican corruption”

It’s been a year since the Tunisian uprisings and the result is being seen in money – new investments that are coming into the country as a result of economic reforms and the elimination of corruption.

With middle-men who grabbed bribes gone, and the ruling Ben Ali family no longer in charge, businessmen are now casting a favorable eye on the country.  Already, the Tunisian stock market has outperformed other Arab exchanges – it rose 10.5 percent in the last half of 2011, compared to a seven percent decline for the S&P Pan Arab index.

The International Monetary Fund estimates the Tunisian economy will grow at 4 percent this year, more than any other Arab country that had faced uprisings or even the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.

One leading Gulf State businessman said that institutional corruption that caused foreign investors to turn down projects has been swept away.  Prior to the Tunisian uprising, transferring assets and currency was difficult, and businessmen were required to pay bribes at all levels of the government to get anything done.

So what is headed Tunisia’s way? The country’s proximity to the oil fields of Libya make it a logical hub for regional companies.  Communications, tourism and renewable energy are also seen as good fits for the country.

Sweep to Corruption purge a boost for Tunisia

Boom in gold prices fuels smuggling in Guyana. / REUTERS
Gold has been good to the tiny South American nation of Guyana. But a boom in gold-mining has been followed by a wave of corruption, and now the government is vowing to clamp down.

The country’s mining minister said he is going to hire more inspectors to curb illegal activity and to make sure a state-run board gets honest reports on gold production.

This comes a week after the minister, Robert Persaud, estimated that half of the gold produced by Guyana’s 800 small and mid-sized mines is smuggled overseas.

Sweep to Guyana to target corruption amid gold mine boom

 

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo is co-founding executive editor of 100Reporters and an award-winning former foreign, national and cultural correspondent for The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.

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