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Pope fires entire board of Vatican financial watchdog

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Pope fires entire board of Vatican financial watchdog | Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Pope fires entire board of Vatican financial watchdog
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Pope Francis sacked the five-man board of the Vatican’s financial watchdog on Thursday – all Italians – in the latest move to break with an old guard associated with a murky past under his predecessor.

The Vatican said the pope named four experts from Switzerland, Singapore, the United States and Italy to replace them on the board of the Financial Information Authority (AIF), the Holy See’s internal regulatory office. The new board includes a woman for the first time.

All five outgoing members were Italians who had been expected to serve five-year terms ending in 2016 and were laymen associated with the Vatican’s discredited financial old guard.

Reformers inside the Vatican had been pushing for the pope, who already has taken a series of steps to clean up Vatican finances, to appoint professionals with an international background to work with Rene Bruelhart, a Swiss lawyer who heads the AIF and who has been pushing for change.

Vatican sources said Bruelhart, Liechtenstein’s former top anti-money laundering expert, was chafing under the old board and wanted Francis to appoint global professionals like him.

“Bruelhart wanted a board he could work with and it seems the pope has come down on his side and sent the old boy network packing,” said a Vatican source familiar with the situation.

The new board of the AIF includes Marc Odendall, who administers and advises philanthropic organisations in Switzerland, and Juan C. Zarate, a Harvard law professor and senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank based in Washington D.C.

The other two board members are Joseph Yuvaraj Pillay, former managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore and senior advisor to that country’s president, and Maria Bianca Farina, the head of two Italian insurance companies.

Francis, who was elected in March 2013 after the resignation of former Pope Benedict, in February set up a new Secretariat for the Economy reporting directly to him and appointed an outsider, Australian Cardinal George Pell, to head it.

In January he removed Cardinal Attilio Nicora, a prelate who played a senior role in Vatican finances for more than a decade, as president of the AIF and replaced him with an archbishop with a track record of reform within the Vatican bureaucracy.

He also replaced four of the five cardinals in the commission that supervises the Vatican’s troubled bank, known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).

Since the arrival of Bruelhart in 2012, the AIF has been spearheading reforms to bring the Vatican in line with international standards on financial transparency and money laundering. But Vatican sources say he has encountered resistance from an old, entrenched guard.

A report last December by Moneyval, a monitoring committee of the Council of Europe, said the Vatican had enacted significant reforms but must still exercise more oversight over its bank.

Francis, who has said Vatican finances must be transparent in order for the Church to have credibility, decided against closing the IOR on condition that reforms, including closing accounts by people not entitled to have them, continued.

Only Vatican employees, religious institutions, orders of priests and nuns and Catholic charities are allowed to have accounts at the bank. But investigators have found that a number were being used by outsiders or that legitimate account holders were handling money for third parties.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a former senior Vatican accountant who had close ties to the IOR, is currently on trial accused of plotting to smuggle millions of dollars into Italy from Switzerland in a scheme to help rich friends avoid taxes.

Scarano has also been indicted on separate charges of laundering millions of euros through the IOR. Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli, the IOR’s director and deputy director, who resigned last July after Scarano’s arrest, have been ordered to stand trial on charges of violating anti-money laundering norms.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Environment

Environmentalists criticise Netflix fishing doco for inaccuracies and misinformation

Maya Taylor

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Environmentalists criticise Netflix fishing doco for inaccuracies and misinformation | Thaiger
PHOTO: Alex Berger / Flickr

As Thailand accuses a Netflix documentary of using outdated and inaccurate information about the country’s fishing industry, a number of global environmental experts are echoing similar criticisms. According to a report in Coconuts, Seaspiracy has been slammed for being full of inaccuracies and twisting the science behind the damage to the world’s oceans, minimising the role of climate change and plastic pollution.

Brian Kahn, a journalist with an MA in Climate and Society, has written a piece called, Don’t Watch Netflix’s Seaspiracy, in which he also accuses the documentary of resorting to racial stereotypes.

“The bad guys are Asians, specifically Japanese whale and dolphin hunters and Chinese consumers of shark fin soup. The good guys – in this case, the experts he cites – are mostly white.”

According to the Coconuts report, the Marine Stewardship Council in London agrees the documentary contains “several inaccuracies” and the Plastic Pollution Coalition says the makers have “cherry-picked” quotes that will fit with their narrative. Marine biology magazine, Hakai, has also weighed in on the matter.

“Though the film misleads viewers with oversimplified science, its real harm is that it ignores the history, culture, and systemic inequities that are entwined with ocean conservation.”

Seaspiracy had its global release last month and has become one of the top 10 most-watched offerings on the Netflix streaming service. Opinion is divided, with many praising British filmmaker Ali Tabrizi for highlighting the issues with the global fishing industry, while others have slammed it for being biased and scientifically inaccurate.

The Royal Thai Navy has also criticised its portrayal of the country’s fishing industry, claiming it’s based on outdated information. In 2015, reporter Thapanee Eadsrichai exposed the significant role human trafficking and slavery played in the industry. This led to a crackdown of sorts, although slavery is still suspected of playing a role, on a smaller scale. The EU then threatened to ban all Thai seafood when the Kingdom’s illegal fishing practices came to light, but backed down when Thailand took steps to rectify the situation.

SOURCE: Coconuts

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Condolences from Thailand to UK on Prince Philip’s death

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Condolences from Thailand to UK on Prince Philip’s death | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: The King and Queen of Thailand greet the King and Queen of England

The leaders of Thailand have sent messages of condolences to their British counterparts following the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on Friday. His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn of Thailand has sent a message of condolence to Prince Philip’s widow, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, released by the Thai Royal Household Bureau, stating that the King and Queen are deeply saddened by Prince Philip’s death.

“We all in Thailand join the people of Great Britain in mourning this great loss, a sense of loss being shared by peoples around the world, whose lives have been touched and enriched by His Royal Highness’ enduring legacies in their diversity.

We still recall, with much pride and warmth, the two historic state visits made by Your Majesty in 1972 and 1996, with His Royal Highness at your side, as guests of my beloved father, His late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Just as important to the people of Thailand was how His Royal Highness wished, during his later visits on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund, to share with them his love of nature and passion for the environment, thus inspiring a number of essential projects of conservation.

May I, on behalf of the people of Thailand, express to Your Majesty, the Royal Family and the British people our heartfelt sympathy and condolences for this truly grievous loss.”

Meanwhile, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha released a statement on behalf of the people of Thailand, saying their thoughts and prayers were with the people of Britain. PM Prayut sent a message to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson praising Prince Philip’s “exceptional leadership”.

“On behalf of the Royal Thai Government and the people of Thailand, I wish to extend to Your Right Honourable and the British people our deepest condolences and sympathy for this irreparable loss. We join the British people in mourning the loss of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts and prayers are with the British people in this time of sadness”

Prince Philip, who was married to Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years, died Friday at the age of 99 after recently being released from King Edward VII Hospital recovering from a February surgery for a heart condition. He was the longest-serving consort in British history. The Duke of Edinburgh had visited Thailand twice, escorting the Queen for state visits with King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1972 and 1996.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World & Thai Examiner

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World

Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip

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Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | Thaiger

Prince Philip, the husband and consort to Queen Elizabeth II, has died at the age of 99. The Duke of Edinburgh was the longest-serving consort in the history of the United Kingdom, retiring in 2017 after more than 20,000 public engagements. Born on the Greek island of Corfu, Philip had 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren with the Queen. Buckingham Palace released a statement mourning the loss.

Prince Philip was born on June 10, 1921 on the island of Corfu, Greece. He married Princess Elizabeth on November 20, 1947.

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | News by Thaiger

Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | News by Thaiger

 

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