Mr JY Pillay has been appointed as a member of the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency. His name was submitted by former Cabinet minister George Yeo. St Ignatius parishioner JY Pillay says he feels “some trepidation” at being appointed to the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency.

“But as George Yeo says, the Holy Spirit will surely guide us,” said Mr Pillay, who is chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers and of Tiger Airways.

The Vatican announced on June 5 that Mr Pillay, 80, was one of four people from various countries that Pope Francis had appointed as members of the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency.

The other members, who come from Italy, Switzerland and the US, replace the all-Italian team in the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority.

In an email interview with CatholicNews, Mr Pillay said former Singapore Cabinet minister George Yeo, who now serves on the Council of the Economy at the Vatican, “submitted my name after he had urged me to step forward”.

“I’ve been told there will be four meetings a year,” said Mr Pillay,  who was former chairman of Singapore Airlines and the Singapore Exchange.  

“I have not been advised when the first meeting of the new board will be.”

Pope Benedict XVI established the Financial Intelligence Authority in late 2010 to monitor Vatican financial operations and ensure they meet international norms against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

In November 2013, Pope Francis revised the agency’s statutes.

New finance laws passed in October also formally expanded the competence of the Financial Intelligence Authority by including the task of “preventive” vigilance, which involves ensuring the proper organisation and trustworthiness of all Vatican financial operations.

The other new members in the Vatican agency, named for a five-year term, are Mr Juan C Zarate, a US senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School; Ms Maria Bianca Farina, a top Italian administrator at the Italian postal system’s investment and insurance divisions; and Mr Marc Odendall, a Swiss-based philanthropist and chairman of the Odendall Foundation.

The pope also approved the decision by the Vatican secretary of state to promote Mr Tommaso Di Ruzza an Italian, to be vice-director “ad interim” of the Financial Information Authority.

Mr Di Ruzza was previously study assistant at the agency. – CNS

Reporting by CLARA LAI