ILMARS RIMSEVICS, governor of Latvia’s central bank for the past 17 years, had been due to retire next year. Instead, he is facing calls to resign. On February 17th he was detained by Latvia’s anti-corruption authority on suspicion of taking a bribe of at least €100,000 ($123,000). The prime minister, Maris Kucinskis, says the allegations are so serious that Mr Rimsevics cannot possibly return to work. Mr Rimsevics, for his part, is staying put. Released on bail on February 19th, he denies the allegations, saying he was set up and is facing death threats.
Just a few days earlier, in an unrelated case, the US Treasury had proposed sanctions on ABLV, one of Latvia’s largest banks. It claimed ABLV had “institutionalised money laundering” and facilitated transactions with North Korea, which is under sanctions. In the days that followed €600m was withdrawn by the bank’s customers. On February 19th, seeking to stabilise the institution, the ECB froze payments by ABLV….Continue reading