- Reuters/Ints Kalnins
- Latvia’s central bank governor Ilmars Rimsevics detained and questioned by anti-corruption police in the Baltic state.
- Latvia’s Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis confirmed that Rimsevics had been detained on Sunday.
- “(Rimsevics’ arrest)… is about demanding a bribe of no less than 100,000 euros,” the head of Latvia’s anti-corruption unit said.
- Rimsevics sits on the European Central Bank’s Governing Council, alongside the likes of ECB President Mario Draghi, and German Bundesbank boss Jens Weidmann.
The head of Latvia’s central bank has been detained and interviewed by anti-corruption police in the country.
Ilmars Rimsevics, the governor of Latvijas Banka was detained on Sunday, and pictures on Latvian state television reportedly showed him arriving at the headquarters of the country’s anti-corruption agency, the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau. Rimsevics’ home and offices at the Bank of Latvia were both raided by officers.
The investigation centres on an accusation of bribery, the head of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau said.
“(Rimsevics’ arrest)… is about demanding a bribe of no less than 100,000 euros,” Jekabs Straume told reporters, according to a report from Reuters.
As a eurozone central bank governor, Rimsevics sits on the European Central Bank’s Governing Council, alongside the likes of ECB President Mario Draghi, and German Bundesbank boss Jens Weidmann.
Latvia’s Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis confirmed that Rimsevics had been detained on Sunday, saying that the arrest does not pose any threat to national stability.
“There are no signs that there is any threat to the Latvian financial system,” Kucinskis said in a statement.
Latvijas Banka was also keen to stress that it continues to function as normal, tweeting on Sunday: “Latvijas Banka continues its business as usual, i.e., maintaining the infrastructure of interbank payment systems, ensuring cash to the economy, businesses and general public, managing currency and gold investments, to the full extent and according to the best quality standards.”
“We want to reiterate that the performance of tasks entrusted to Latvijas Banka is not affected, and tomorrow the national central bank will resume its activities in the usual routine. This also means that all usual services will be provided to businesses and the general public,” a further tweet added.
Latvia’s banking system has been under scrutiny in recent months, with several banks investigated, according to a BBC report.
Last summer, for instance, two lenders were fined by the authorities “for allowing their clients to circumvent international sanctions preventing payments to North Korea,” according to the same BBC report.
In a separate incident on Monday, ABLV Bank, the country’s third biggest lender was told by the ECB to stop all payments.
The order comes after the bank’s liquidity position suffered following accusations of involvement in money laundering by the US Treasury.
“ABLV has institutionalized money laundering as a pillar of the bank’s business practices,” the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FCEN) said in a statement.