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U.S. partners tell Latvia banks are still involved in money laundering schemes

RIGA - Partners in the United States have informed the government that Latvian banks are still involved in money laundering schemes, Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola (Greens/Farmers) told reporters today.

The minister today had a meeting with the visiting U.S. Department of Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea to discuss Latvia and the United States' cooperation in the financial sector. Although the officials did not talk about problems at any specific banks, partners in the United States have made it clear that violations are continuing in Latvia. "We're being told that banks are still used to transfer funds associated with persons, companies or countries on which sanctions have been imposed. However, our partners in the United States have not yet provided the facts. It was made clear during the meeting that problems still exist in the financial sector," added the minister.

According to Reizniece-Ozola, Latvia and the United States agree that banks in Latvia have to reduce the amount of services provided to non-residents. No specific time frames were mentioned today, but it is clear that there is not much time.

"We did not talk about any particular deadlines, but I understood that the risks have to be minimized as quickly as possible. Banks have to realize that they have to give up this precarious kind of business. Either they have to change their business practices or fold," stressed the minister.

At the same time, U.S. partners expressed support for the Latvian government and the Financial and Capital Market Commission.

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