Further efforts towards perfecting public and finance sectors are needed - Latvian president

RIGA - Certain recent developments demonstrate that Latvia should keep up the efforts towards perfecting its public and finance sectors and continue the fight against corruption and money laundering, Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis told the press after the meeting of the National Security Council.

The National Security Council received a comprehensive report from the competent authorities about the current situation in the Latvian finance sector. The report reaffirmed that the financial system was stable and steps were being taken to fully protect the interests of the Latvian nation and to respect Latvia's international financial obligations, Vejonis said.

"Our goal is a rule-of-law state. Corruption and criminal activities will not be tolerated, and the perpetrators will be called to justice regardless of their title, status and influence," the Latvian president said, urging the law enforcement agencies and the financial supervision authorities to keep up their independent and professional work to obtain results as quickly as possible.

At the same time, the government must continue own efforts to identify possible risks and to reduce or eliminate them. Cooperation with the U.S. authorities is vital to obtain all the necessary information, Vejonis said.

"I call on everyone to thoroughly assess the information sources, not to fall for any conspiracy theories and unverified information and not to spread rumors and allegations. Let the competent authorities do their job," the Latvian president said.

As reported, the Latvian finance sector has been shaken by several developments within the past week.

The Corruption Prevention Bureau has started a criminal proceeding against Bank of Latvia Governor Ilmars Rimsevics on suspicions of bribery. Rimsevics insists he is innocent and therefore will not step down as the head of the Latvian central bank. He said that the accusations against him was a retaliatory action from ABLV Bank and other banks serving non-residents.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of Treasury has proposed sanctions against ABLV Bank for its role in money laundering schemes that have been facilitating transactions for parties connected to North Korea's nuclear program and illegal activities in Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine. FinCEN also said in its report that the management of ABLV Bank used bribery to influence Latvian officials when challenging enforcement actions and perceived threats to their high-risk business.

ABLV Bank said it will make every effort to disprove the allegations and will ask the law enforcement agencies to investigate possible slander.

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