VATICAN CITY — The scandal-marred Vatican bank has gone to court in Malta to try to recover millions of euros (dollars) it lost in an investment fund.

The Vatican said Tuesday that a Maltese judge would determine the total losses, which it termed “significant.” Italian news reports have identified the investment vehicle as the “Ad Maiora” fund, and said the total losses suffered by the bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, came to upward of 230 million euros.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the initial 17 million-euro investment was made at the beginning of 2013. The timeframe corresponds to a period of transition between presidents at the Vatican bank, and a few months before the July 2013 ouster of the top two day-to-day managers who resigned in scandal.

Already, in its 2013 annual report, the IOR wrote down 28.5 million euros, saying they were one-time losses “in a proprietary investment in external funds.”

It is unusual for the Vatican to go to court in another country to recover money. But the litigation comes as the Holy See is coming up for review by the Council of Europe’s Moneyval evaluators. In its last report in 2015, Moneyval faulted the Vatican’s own judiciary for failing to bring charges in any of the two-dozen money-laundering investigations that had by then been opened into the Vatican bank’s activities.

The case in Malta will likely be cited by the Holy See to Moneyval as evidence that it is fully engaged in, and committed to, greater international financial transparency and cooperation.

In a statement, the Vatican said that the litigation confirms IOR’s commitment to transparency and reporting abuses against it to competent authorities, even outside the Vatican.

The Vatican submitted to the Moneyval evaluation process after it signed onto the 2009 EU Monetary Convention and in a bid to shed its image as a financially shady tax haven whose bank has long been embroiled in scandal.

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NICOLE WINFIELD
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