Latvian bank freeze over alleged North Korea links

Latvian security service police car

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On Tuesday, 20 February, in order to achieve cancellation of the imposed restrictions, ABLV Bank officials are presenting a new plan for the stabilisation of the bank's situation to the management of European Central Bank (ECB).

Mr Rimsevics, who has refused to step down but who was today suspended from his post, says he has received death threats.

Norvik has filed an global complaint against Latvia in which it claims a "Senior Latvian Official" sought bribes from the bank and abused his power.

Latvia has become infamous for money laundering since the high-profile Magnitsky scandal, in which $230 million in Russian taxpayers' money was siphoned off, largely through Latvian banks, according to USA and European authorities.

Its owner, Grigory Guselnikov, a Russian based in Britain, had not provided evidence of wrongdoing despite being "repeatedly asked", Reuters news agency said.

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Mr Rimsevics was detained on Saturday and released two days later on bail.

Latvia's ABLV Bank sought emergency support on Monday after USA officials accused it of helping breach North Korean sanctions while the country's central bank chief faced bribery allegations, turning up the spotlight on its financial system.

They said an attempt may be underway to show Latvia is an "untrustworthy ally" and reduce the government's power. The prime minister earlier said, however, that Rimsevics would be prevented from performing his duties.

In a bid to increase it's worldwide rating, Norvik last month hired former North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as deputy head of the bank's council.

Mr Rimsevics is also on the highest policy-making council of the European Central Bank, which sets monetary policy for the 19 euro countries.

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The confusing rival claims of wrongdoing will deepen worries about the transparency of Latvia's banking sector, which has close financial links to former colonial master Russian Federation.

The U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has said non-resident banking increases the risk that criminals could conduct fraudulent transactions.

The biggest banks, subsidiaries of Nordic heavyweights like Swedbank and SEB, focus on domestic lending, but there are a number of small banks that handle mainly overseas client money.

It called on February 13 for sanctions on ABLV, which it said had "institutionalized money laundering" and helped clients avoid sanctions on North Korea.

Since the release of a damning report from the U.S. Treasury into the bank's methods and culture, depositors have pulled out around 600 million euros, leading to the liquidity squeeze. He admitted that some time is required to stabilize operations of ABLV Bank.

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