Latvia central bank head urged to step down during corruption inquiry

Frederick Owens
February 19, 2018

AFP- Anti-corruption authorities in Latvia have arrested the governor of the country's central bank, Ilmars Rimsevics, the government said Sunday, while assuring there is "no sign of danger" to the financial system. As the head of the central bank, Rimsevics is on the European Central Bank's council of monetary policy rate-setters.

However, he attempted to reassure people that the economy was stable.

"There are no signs that show any threats to the Latvian financial system", Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis said in a statement on Sunday, praising the work of the anti-corruption bureau and stressing the importance that it work free from interference.

The head of the Latvian central bank returned to Riga from a foreign trip on Saturday evening and was driven by his lawyer to the Corruption Prevention Bureau's office where he was interrogated for almost eight hours.

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The home and office of the central bank's governor was searched on Friday, the state broadcaster said on Saturday. Latvian media said officers of the Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) had also staged raids at the bank governor 's residence and his offices at the Bank of Latvia. Aseradens, a member of the ruling coalition's second-largest party, told Latvijas Radio that the cabinet will meet Monday for an extraordinary session to discuss developments.

The Bank of Latvia could not be immediately reached for comment. He has been a member of the ECB's Governing Council since January 2014, when Latvia adopted the euro.

Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola would hold a news conference at 1300 GMT, the minister's office said, while a spokesperson for the European Central Bank declined to comment.

FinCen said last week that it was seeking to impose sanctions on ABLV.

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