Bernardino Nogara

Bernardino Nogara (June 17, 1870 November 15, 1958) was the financial advisor to the Vatican between 1929 and 1954, appointed by Pope Pius XI and retained by Pope Pius XII as the first Director of the Special Administration of the Holy See. According to historian John F. Pollard, Nogara laid "the foundations" for "one of the biggest pillars for the Vatican's post-Second World War financial strength."[1]

Bernardino Nogara c. 1912

Nogara's career was characterized by an "ability to move fluidly in the highest circles of industry and politics as well as the Church".[2] In his role as Director of the Special Administration, Nogara made large investments in many of the largest companies in Europe, personally becoming a board member of a "mind-boggling" number of firms, and appointing directors to many others.[3]

Though a Catholic with several close relatives in the Holy Orders,[4] Nogara insisted that his investments remain unrestricted by religious or doctrinal considerations.[5] Under Pius XI, Nogara made large investments in firms contrary to Catholic social teaching and made direct loans to Mussolini's government prior to Mussolini's 1935 invasion of Ethiopia.[6][7] Under Pius XII, Nogara routinely invested in firms that profited from and enabled the war effort of the Axis powers during World War II.[citation needed] Though these investments were hidden from the Allies (with whom Nogara also transacted), through the use of holding companies and offshore banking centers, under Nogara "like water finding a downhill path, Vatican money found its way to the grisly side of the Holocaust".[8] However, other than a Vatican purchase in May 1940 of a minor shareholding in an Italian insurance company, La Fondaria, no primary source evidence has ever been offered in support of these latter claims, while documents recently discovered in The National Archives, London (in the T231 and T160 series) reveal that Nogara transferred the Vatican's entire foreign investment portfolio to the United States at the beginning of the war, and throughout the duration of the war was actively accumulating a substantial portfolio of stocks in British and American war related industries in support of the Allied war effort. By contrast no document has yet been produced to substantiate the claim that any funds were invested in Germany.[9]