The Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), better known as the Vatican Bank, has released its earnings statement for 2016, showing a profit of 36 million euros ($40.33 million).
On Monday, the Vatican Bank published its annual report claiming earnings more than double those of the preceding year 2015, when the Bank registered a profit of 16.1 million euros ($18 million).
“This result has been achieved thanks to a prudent approach in managing IOR’s investments in a year characterised by high volatility, global political uncertainty due to unexpected outcomes of major electoral events and low interest rates,” the IOR said in a press release Monday.
Although $40 million profit is nothing to sneeze at, it is a relatively small amount for the bank of an independent country. By comparison, the Fortune 500 companies averaged profits of $1.78 billion each in 2016, or more than 44 times that of the Vatican Bank, according to a new report by Forbes.
The bank explained that during 2016 it “continued to serve with prudence and provide specialized financial services to the Catholic Church worldwide and the Vatican City state.”
In 2016 the IOR had some 15,000 clients worldwide, consisting mostly of religious orders, Vatican employees and Catholic clergy, according to the report. As of December 31, 2016, the IOR was managing client assets worth 5.7 billion euros, slightly less that the 5.8 billion euros at the end of 2015.
Most of the Bank’s clients “are active in missions or perform charitable works at institutions such as schools, hospitals or refugee camps,” the report states. Its work is conducted worldwide, including “in countries with very basic infrastructure and underdeveloped banking and payment systems,” which means they depend on the IOR, especially for transferring donations from wealthier nations to poorer ones.
The report also notes that the IOR has consolidated and strengthened its internal governance and internal control system during 2016, implementing a Risk Appetite Framework and continuing to adapt to the new AIF regulatory framework while seeking “consistency with international best practices.”
Before the release of the report, the IOR’s 2016 financial statements were audited by the firm Deloitte & Touche and were reviewed by the Commission of Cardinals overseeing the institute’s work.
For years the Vatican Bank was plagued by financial scandals but Pope Benedict XVI and his successor Pope Francis carried out a major bank reform that ended in 2015 with the closure of about 5,000 accounts.
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