Fears for Latvian bank as ECB blocks payments


Mr Rimsevics is also a member of the European Central Bank's governing council. "I am not guilty".

On Saturday evening, Latvian state TV showed Rimsevics arriving by auto to the anti-corruption agency and leaving hours later.

The state TV quoted Mr Rimsevics' lawyer, Saulvedis Varpins, as saying that more information on the case will be provided on Tuesday.

Who's next to take the top spot at the European Central Bank?

"Norvik bank" was fined 1.3 million euro in July 2017 for incomplete due diligence and monitoring of the non-resident banking transactions which resulted in the circumvention of the worldwide sanctions against North Korea. The document, obtained by Bloomberg News, didn't name him, referring only to a "very high-level, senior Latvian public official".

"ABLV has institutionalised money laundering as a pillar of the bank's business practices", it said, adding that bank executives and management have used bribery to influence Latvian officials.

The anti-corruption agency says the criminal investigation is not related to money-laundering accusations levelled against the country's third largest bank, ABLV, by the US Treasury.

The latest allegations have put the government in a tight spot. "Anyone can submit legal evidence or turn to the relevant authorities and inform them about violations, including payments or demands for bribes".

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What's the bank accused of?

ABLV shot back last Thursday stating that the allegations were based "on assumptions and information that is now unavailable to the bank", but that they were "continuing check into these allegations" and were open to cooperation with USA authorities. "I have become the target of some Latvian commercial banks to destroy Latvia's reputation". Rimsevics denied the allegations. "For 25 years Rimsevics has been directing things".

Separately, Latvia's anti-corruption authority said it had detained Ilmars Rimsevics, the central bank governor and ECB policymaker, over the weekend for allegedly demanding a bribe.

It's investigating "an alleged solicitation and acceptance of a bribe" of at least 100,000 euros, it said in a statement. He was released on Friday on record bail of € 500,000 (US$ 620,000).

Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola called for Rimsevics to step down during the investigation to avoid damage to Latvia's credit position.

To shake off accusations that its lenders hold wealth with questionable origins, Latvia's financial regulator has fined three banks for handling accounts that were involved in a $1 billion Moldovan fraud in 2014.

Last week, the U.S. launched a stinging attack on ABLV, accusing it of enabling transactions linked to North Korea's weapons program, and of facilitating corruption connected to Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine.

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