On Friday 23 February, Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis explained the situation in the financial sector of Latvia to the EU Heads of State and Government at the European Council meeting in Brussels.
Addressing the EU Heads of State and Government, M.Kučinskis pointed out that the current situation is not straightforward - the government of Latvia and law enforcement institutions have to deal simultaneously with a number of unrelated cases in the Latvian financial sector, and this creates favourable grounds for various speculations in the media space.
“The fight against corruption and abandoning laws, including money laundering, is one of the main priorities of my government. This is not an easy and short-term task," said M. Kučinskis.
It was stated that the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) of Latvia has initiated criminal proceedings against the President of the Bank of Latvia, which is related to the requesting and receiving a large bribe. This criminal proceeding is not related to any of the credit institutions currently operating in Latvia. Recent allegations of the management of the commercial bank (Norvik) operating in Latvia are treated as intentional attempts to harm Latvia's reputation, as no evidence has been presented against the public statements.
"This bank has recently instituted judicial proceedings against the state of Latvia; consequently, it is not difficult to understand the motivation for such an action," said M. Kučinskis.
In addition, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the U.S. Treasury Department has published a report expressing concerns about the activities of the Latvian commercial bank AB.LV bank. According to the recommendation of the European Central Bank, the bank is currently subject to operational restrictions, and is given the task to prove that it has both a long-term operational plan and possibility to provide long-term liquidity. Some of the facts presented in the US report were known to the Latvian authorities in advance, and the necessary steps have been taken to remedy the problem. This is part of the progress made by Latvia in the field of anti-money laundering over the past years.
"I can, however, say that the Latvian authorities are working closely with each other and also with our international partners, including the European Central Bank and the United States. We are convinced of both the stability of our banking sector and the ability to take significant steps to completely eradicate corruption and unlawful conduct in the financial sector of Latvia, "said M. Kučinskis.
M. Kučinskis also thanked the EU Heads of State and Government for their support in this area.
Press Secretary to the Prime Minister