People like to say the Vatican is a bank; however, that is incorrect. The Vatican owns a private bank called the Institute for Works of Religion, which is not under the authority of the Pope; however, there the CEO that runs the bank reports to a group of Cardinals, which ultimately reports to the Holy See. Because the Pope owns nothing but his own bank account in the IOR, he is not in charge nor does he deal with the IOR directly, he puts in place the Cardinals that put in place the Professional CEO.
So, if you knew the Pope personally, he would have no authority to give you a loan. However, he once did have control over the assets of the bank, which as been stopped, as we see during WWII that Pope Pius XII was going to loan to the Jews of Rome (with no stipulations except payment of the principle) so as to help them meet the ransom demanded by SS Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Kappeller.
The bank was originally created to hold the Catholic Church's money, St. Peter's Basilica's money, different Parishes' money, as well as the assorted charities and other religious establishments and individuals that wished to bank with them.
This was because of the supposed idea that the bank would be there to keep the money safe, not necessarily for loans, and as not to have to deal with the common bank problems such as bank runs and ill banking practices. As well as having a safe guard for religious orders and parishes to be able to bank without their governments knowing who is donating to the religious groups and being persecuted.
There has been different things going on with the bank for awhile Holocaust victims have made complaints against the bank and such. However, the CEO, President, and Vice Present of the IOR are directly responsible for the bank and run the show. The CEO, President, and the VP are not clergy of the Catholic Church (at the moment). During the years 71 to 89 Archbishop Paul Marcinkus was the head of the IOR (I actually met him a few times as I went to the same Mass as him until he died in 2006) and was indicted for laundering with the Sicilian Mafia, with his Diplomatic Immunity he was not charged and retired and moved to Sun City.
There of course has been several sensationalist claims against the IOR, but ultimately were found to be unsound criticism as their sources were not academic, but hearsay and when confronted with the documents and not much to say.
A lot of accusations come from allegedly "supporting" the Croatian group Utsgete (SP?), which other banks have gone into paper shredding mode since the claims came about; however, the Holy See refused to let the bank destroy evidence that would potentially cover up wrong doing if it was in fact done.
Now, for the juicy stuff. The current allegation was leaked that the IOR's managers are under investigation of money laundering after the Bank of Italy reported that it found TWO transactions from the IOR to be suspicious. These transactions came from a bank in Italy to J.P. Morgan Chase in the United States, which has a Vatican Account at. Another bank in Italy was involved. The reason for the suspicion by the Bank of Italy was because the IOR did not disclose the origin of money, which is a violation of Italian law.
Neither of the two manager's that are being investigated are charged, so Rome's prosecutors will have to get a judicial ruling to continue the investigation.
The IOR's stance is that they did nothing wrong and the Bank of Italy already has the information about the transactions and is waiting for the prosecutors to figure out that the Bank of Italy did in fact have the papers for the IOR's transaction.
Edit: The current allegations have been since 2009. Not really recent. And the claims are more sensationalist. Everything in Italy is put on like a grand show.
The current President/CEO, whatever his position is, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. Tedeschi is a Italian economist (woot woot! go economist!) that is part of the religious order Opus Dei (second woot woot!), who was hand picked and recommended by Pope Benedict XVI to make the IOR's movements more transparent as it's not really a technologically advanced bank comparatively.
Here is an article about the bank and the current Pope, and CEO/President: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/09/23/vatican-bank-scandal-money-laundering-or-manufactured-charg/