VATICAN CITY - The Vatican appointed its first auditor-general on Friday in Pope Francis' latest move aimed at ensuring transparency in the scandal-plagued finances at the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.
A statement said the pope, who has made cleaning up finances a major plank of his papacy, had chosen Libero Milone, a 66-year-old Italian who is a former chairman and CEO of the global auditing firm Deloitte in Italy.
Cardinal George Pell, head of the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy, has said the auditor-general will be autonomous, answerable only to the pope and free to "go anywhere and everywhere" in the Vatican to review the finances and management of any department.
Milone was born in the Netherlands and has experience working as an accountant in major firms in Britain, Italy, and the United States. He has also worked as an auditor for the Rome-based United Nations World Food Program and major Italian companies such as car maker Fiat and the Wind telecoms group.
As a result of the clean-up campaign, the Vatican bank, which had been embroiled in numerous scandals in the past, has enacted a wide-ranging drive to tighten financial governance and eliminate abuse.
The bank, formally known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), has toughened regulatory standards and closed thousands of accounts that were either inactive or deemed not to meet new standards required of clients.
Reforming the IOR and other Vatican departments that deal with Church finances has been one of the most sensitive issues facing the pope as he seeks to overhaul the complex Vatican administration called the Curia.
Francis appointed Pell, an Australian, to run an overhaul of the opaque finances of the Holy See, which for years were controlled by a narrow group of Italian officials.