Catholic News Service photo
The main entrance of the Institute for the Works of Religion, known colloquially as the Vatican bank, is seen at the Vatican May 31. Ernst von Freyburg, president of the bank, said its operations are sound but "our biggest issue is our reputation."
Catholic News Service photo
The main entrance of the Institute for the Works of Religion, known colloquially as the Vatican bank, is seen at the Vatican May 31. Ernst von Freyburg, president of the bank, said its operations are sound but "our biggest issue is our reputation."
VATICAN CITY — Vatican security officers stopped two men -- one American and one Dutch -- trying to enter the Vatican bank with a briefcase full of fake bonds.

Officers with the Vatican gendarme corps intercepted the two men March 29 when the men approached a guarded entrance and asked to be let into the Vatican bank, known formally as the Institute for the Works of Religion.

According to Vatican Radio, the men did not have Vatican bank accounts and they did not have an appointment with anyone at the bank.

The men were apprehended and, according to Vatican-Italy agreements, placed into the custody of the Italian financial police. They have been charged by both Vatican and Italian authorities, the radio reported.

The briefcase contained fake bonds appearing to be worth billions of euros and U.S. dollars, according to Agence France-Presse. The Italian finance police found fake passports and other false documents in the men's hotel rooms, the news agency reported.

The police crackdown "shows the controls are working," Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told AFP.

"But I don't think we're talking about a plot by criminal masterminds if they managed to get caught at the first hurdle," he added.