Latvian bank boss in more hot water

The former head of the Latvian National Bank (LNB) Ilmārs Rimšēvičs (pictured above) has been accused by the country’s Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) of a second case of soliciting bribes and of providing false information to the American authorities in connection with the activities of ABLV Bank (ABLV).

The KNAB believe that Mr Rimšēvičs had meetings with the owner of ABLV, Ernests Bernis, several years ago and proposed using specific lobbyists to represent his interests abroad. Mr Bernis allegedly refused the proposal and instead hired his own lobbyists.

According to investment newsletter LETA, Mr Bernis felt that Mr Rimšēvičs’ request fell into the realm of a bribe or kickback. The KNAB believes that Mr Rimšēvičs subsequently provided false information to US the authorities about ABLV in retaliation. ABLV went into liquidation in February.

Mr Rimšēvičs and businessman Māris Martinsons are currently the subjects of a criminal investigation headed by the Latvian Prosecutor General’s Office, previously investigated by KNAB. Over the summer the prosecutor general charged both Mr Rimšēvičs and Mr Martinsons with soliciting bribes from shareholders of Trasta Komercbanka, a bank with such a poor record on money-laundering related failures it was shut down by the European Central Bank and the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FKTK), Latvia’s financial regulator.

The KNAB launched the case following requests from two unnamed Trasta Komercbanka shareholders. KNAB supervisory prosecutor Viorika Jirgena said that “both shareholders are part of the criminal case. Both gave bribes, but they have been relieved of criminal liability because they confessed their crimes voluntarily.”

Ms Jirgena added that “one of the shareholders asked Mr Rimšēvičs to assist in matters associated with the Latvian Financial and Capital Market Commission (FKTK) in 2010. In exchange for his assistance, Mr Rimšēvičs was offered a paid vacation. In 2012, the same shareholder plus another, approached Mr Rimšēvičs again with the same request. As payment, Mr Rimšēvičs requested 500,000 euro to be paid in two parts – one half before the FKTK’s decision and the other after.”

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