Libero Milone was hired in June 2015 as the first ever person to hold the position

Libero Milone, the Vatican’s auditor general, announced his resignation Tuesday afternoon in a move that has surprised observers.

Mr Milone, an Italian financier who was hired in June 2015 as the first ever person to hold the post, has yet to give any explanation for his decision.

A four-line statement released by the Vatican says: “It is noted that Doctor Libero Milone yesterday presented his resignation to the Holy Father from the position of Auditor General. The Holy Father accepted it. Thus concludes, by common agreement, the relationship of collaboration with the Holy See.

“While it wishes Doctor Milone every good for his future activity, the Holy See informs that, as soon as possible, a process will be activated to nominate a new director for the Office of Auditor General.”

His resignation comes just over a year after the Vatican halted an external audit by accountancy firm PwC, saying it wanted to “examine the meaning and scope of certain contract clauses”.

It later said it had concluded that “by law, the task of performing the financial statement audit is entrusted to the Office of the Auditor General”.