Prosecutor says Latvia central bank chief took holiday and cash bribes

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RIGA/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Latvia's public prosecutor accused its central bank chief on Friday of accepting the offer of any 500,000-euro ($582,000) bribe, within a case which has rocked faith inside Baltic state and cast a cloud on the euro currency bloc.

The announcement of detailed charges gives you an opportunity for any trial of Ilmars Rimsevics, one among Europe's most influential economic policymakers, who led the previous Soviet country in to the euro.

Rimsevics was briefly detained a few months ago and features since protested his innocence, dismissing the accusations for a smear campaign and rejecting repeated calls from politicians to resign.

The case, as well as the closure of Latvia's third-largest bank, ABLV, as soon as the America accused it of money-laundering, has damaged the standing of the Baltic state, which fashioned itself for a financial bridge between Russia and the west.

It has also tarnished the look within the European Central Bank (ECB), where Rimsevics helped set monetary insurance the full euro currency bloc like a part of its governing council. The ECB has also been the cause of monitoring ABLV, the lending company that closed.

Viorika Jirgena, a Latvian state prosecutor, told journalists that your bribes ended up being paid by two shareholders of Trasta Komercbanka at any given time when the Latvian bank was concerned about its future.

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She said the bribery dated back to 2010, once the shareholders bought Rimsevics to pay out a visit to Kamchatka, a wilderness region in Russia's asia.

In return, Jirgena said Rimsevics helped them prepare approaches to questions in the Latvian regulator, the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC).

Later, in 2012, the shareholders decided to pay him 500,000 euros in 2 equal installments, in return for Rimsevics using his influence to melt the Latvian agency's management of the bank account.

"They agreed amongst themselves which the bribe might be paid in two parts," said Jirgena. "Half was to get paid well before choosing one (with the Latvian regulator) along with the second half afterwards."

As central bank governor, Rimsevics was qualified to receive attend meetings at the FCMC regulator and was responsible, combined with the finance ministry, for proposing its head.

Rimsevics was, however, unsuccessful in preventing Trasta Komercbanka's demise. Therefore, the shareholders refused to cover Rimsevics another 250,000-euro installment.

The bank closed in 2019 as soon as the Latvian regulator said hello had broken money-laundering rules.

"They hoped that … Trasta Komercbanka could continue running a business," she said. "But things didn't drop by plan. To ensure the bribers refused to fork out the other bribe."

Earlier this coming year, those shareholders approached Latvian anti-corruption investigators, handing over evidence the bribery over the if you know they will not be prosecuted.

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A spokeswoman for any FCMC said she can’t disclose who along at the regulator was needed for taking decisions concerning the bank but there ended up being oh dear for your central bank governor to guide the results.

"The FCMC performs its act as an autonomous public institution and adopts its decisions independently," she said. Rimsevics didn’t interact to requests for touch upon Friday.

Trasta Kommercbanka's administrators could not reply to a ask comment.

The European Central Bank has accused Latvia in Europe’s highest court of illegally removing Rimsevics from his post as governor and demanded as a minimum some of his powers to be reinstated, so you don’t manage the ECB's decision-making.

Since securing independence from Russia in 1991, over a dozen Latvian banks have promoted themselves as the gateway to Western markets for clients in Russia and other former Soviet states – and promised Swiss-style secrecy for clients.

Trasta Kommercbanka has been considered one of that group.

At the peak in 2019, Latvian banks held deposits up to 12 billion euros ($15 billion) for foreign customers. Bankers and officials have said much of the money originated Russia.

Changing its method of banking presents Latvia which has a difficult balancing act.

Washington is an important military ally for the former Soviet-ruled state of two million people within the EU's eastern flank. You’ll find it has close historical and trade ties with Russia.

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