Sunday 28 January 2024

Vatican establishes email address to report anticorruption concerns

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The Holy See issues new norms detailing procedures for raising anticorruption concerns with the Vatican Auditor, via a dedicated email address, regarding anomalies in the use of financial or material resources, irregularities in tenders, and acts of corruption.

The Holy See published a procedure on Wednesday regarding the steps for reporting financial anomalies to the Office of the Auditor General.

The procedure will facilitate the dissemination of knowledge and the possibility of "whistleblowing," or raising concerns about potential abuses, in force in the legislation of the Holy See and Vatican City State.

This is one of the most effective tools for combating corruption, provided for, among other things, by the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to which the Holy See acceded in 2016.

The Statutes of the Office of the Auditor General and the Apostolic Constitution "Praedicate Evangelium" provide for the Auditor General to be the recipient of reports on particular situations related to anomalies in the use or allocation of financial or material resources; irregularities in the awarding of contracts or in the conduct of transactions or disposals; and acts of corruption or fraud.

Email for raising concerns

The procedure states that reports may be submitted in writing, using a dedicated email address, which is, or by a confidential letter addressed to the Auditor General.

Oral reports are also possible, at the request of the person who intends to make the report. This may be done through a direct meeting or by videoconference with the Auditor General.

The Auditor General, for his part, safeguards the confidentiality, integrity, and security of whistleblowing disclosures and ensures that the identity of the whistleblower can only be disclosed to the judicial authority when the latter claims it is necessary for the purposes of investigation or judicial activity.

Protection of whistleblower's identity

The procedure clarifies that the prohibition to disclose the identity of the whistleblower refers not only to the name of the whistleblower, but also to all the elements of the report, including the documentation attached thereto, to the extent that their disclosure, even indirectly, might allow the identification of the whistleblower.

Furthermore, the guidance specifies that the reporting of anomalous activities made in good faith to the Auditor General does not give rise to any liability for breach of official secrecy or any other constraints on disclosure that are dictated by legal, administrative, or contractual provisions.

Raising concerns about improper conduct

The published procedure clarifies how reports may concern improper conduct that represents a threat or damage to the common good. On the other hand, reports must not concern complaints of a personal nature of the person making the report.

Reports must reference the discipline and procedures in force and must not fall under the discipline of the employment relationship or relations with the hierarchical superior or colleagues.

Anonymous reports, as the legislation emphasizes, will not be followed up.

"The issuance of the procedure will give even greater impetus to the reports, already received by the Office of the Auditor General in previous years, making it easier, especially through the electronic channel, to send them," commented the Auditor General, Alessandro Cassinis Righini.  

"The procedure also clarifies the scope of admissible and excluded reports, as well as the fact that those who legitimately entertain economic relations with the Holy See and the Vatican City State are also included among the legitimised subjects."

"Appearing ever clearer," he continued, "are the organic nature of the economic reforms, starting with the recently amended rules on public contracts, which already give the Office of the Auditor General a supervisory role, together with other bodies of the Holy See and the State, precisely by virtue of its role as an anti-corruption authority."