PM cracks down on money laundering

  • 2005-03-09
  • From wire reports
RIGA - In an attempt to step up the fight against money laundering, the government is planning to approve amendments to several laws, said Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis. The PM said on March 7 that his government would submit draft amendments to the criminal law, currently going through Parliament in the third reading. The government also plans to approve amendments to the crediting institutions law and money laundering prevention law.

Provisions on the crediting institution law will state that, if a bank does not observe the law's requirements, and if its operations threaten its stability, solvency or reputation, the bank will lose its license.

Under existing legislation, a bank's license can be revoked if the bank does not observe the requirements and rules set by the Finance and Capital Market Commission. The amendments will provide state-security services and give finance police the right to examine suspicious bank account data upon court orders, as well as proposing criminal liability for clients that provide false information.

"We have made all bank-controlling institutions sit down for talks and we have succeeded in improving the coordination among these institutions, which has not been successful so far. I believe that we have all the possibilities to dispel our partners' concerns about allegedly uninvestigated cases of money laundering," the prime minister said.

Kalvitis recently announced Latvia had stepped up its fight against money laundering, as several countries had alleged that thousands of illegal transactions were being conducted through Latvian banks.

The international rating agency Fitch Ratings warned that Kalvitis' announcement could lead to lower credit rates for these banks. Latvia has 23 banks, including one foreign branch.