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FCMC suspects someone may want to undermine Latvia’s financial sector

Pēters Putniņš/fktk.lv.
It is not impossible that someone may want to undermine Latvia’s financial sector, said chairman of Latvian Finance and Capital Market Commission Pēters Putniņš in an interview to Rīta Panorāma programme on Tuesday, 20 February.

«We cannot exclude this possibility. There are too many coincidences – the country’s political interests and matters associated with the financial system are affected. One of Latvia’s largest bank’s [ABLV Bank] has ended up in a very complicated situation. This is why it is entirely possible that Latvia’s enemies may want to use this situation for their own interests. It is also possible they were the ones who caused this situation in the first place. We have to be carefully. All of Latvia’s institutions have to cooperate,» said Putniņš.

He also mentioned that what Norvik Bank’s largest shareholder Grigorijs Guselnikovs has said in relation to possible dishonest behaviour from FCMC is untrue.

«I do not have any information that proves members of the commission are in any way involved in activities mentioned by Mr. Guselnikov. We have a complicated history when it comes to supervising the aforementioned bank. What this person claims is simply untrue,» said Putniņš.

Guselnikovs had previously told AP that the governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs had been extorting bribes from his credit institution for years. Supposedly Rimšēvičs had been demanding bribes on a regular basis since 2015, threatening with sanctions against Norvik Bank if they refused to pay.

Allegedly the governor of the Bank of Latvia had told Guselnikovs that he can help the owner of Norvik Bank, because FCMC, which performs supervision over banks, is an institution loyal to him.

Norvik Bank has turned to the International Court of Arbitration against Latvian state, claiming that ‘some high-rank Latvian official’ had attempted to extort bribes and had abused their official power.

BNN had previously reported that after his arrest, Ilmārs Rimšēvičs was applied with a security measure that prohibits him from performing his duties. This was confirmed by Latvia’s Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis after an extraordinary meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Rimšēvičs is held suspect of demanding and accepting a bribe worth at least EUR 100,000.

Kučinskis mentioned that the government listened to the report from the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (CPCB) in regards to Rimšēvičs’ arrest. He mentioned that the bureau will provide more detailed information on this matter once the investigation allows it.

«The governor of the Bank of Latvia was applied with a security measure on Monday, 19 February. As bare minimum, he will not be allowed to perform his official duties,» Kučinskis said.

He confirmed that CPCB’s initiated criminal process is associated with Rimšēvičs’ arrest, not ABLV Bank or any other financial institution. At the same time, the prime minister mentioned that the bureau has commenced «decisive and direct efforts to combat machinations in the country’s financial sector».

Chief of CPCB Jēkabs Straume mentioned that there are two individuals involved in the criminal process – a high-ranking official of the Bank of Latvia and some other individual. The bribe in question is worth at least EUR 100,000.

Rimšēvičs was released in exchange for bail of EUR 100,000. The money was paid to the State Treasury by «a close friend of Rimšēvičs’», as confirmed by his lawyer Saulvedis Vārpiņš.

In accordance with instructions from the European Central Bank, Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market commission has applied temporary restrictions on ABLV Bank’s monetary transactions in any form of currency.


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