FIU freezes bank accounts of Novum Riga Charitable Foundation

  • 2020-06-09
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Latvia has frozen the bank accounts of the Novum Riga Charitable Foundation (Novum Riga), established by ABLV Bank's owners Ernests Bernis and Olegs Fils, the daily newspaper Diena reports on Tuesday. 

The FIU has put the freeze on the foundation's money in two banks for at least 45 days. 

According to the lawyers surveyed by the daily, this might be the first time in Latvia that an enterprise's entire money is arrested. 

The foundation plans to appeal the asset freeze. 

According to the Diena report, the FIU suspects that the Novum Riga accounts might have been used to launder illegal proceeds after ABLV Bank's shutdown in 2018. 

However, the FIU has ordered the asset freeze without explaining the reason, which not only provides no clarity about the situation but also makes it harder for the foundation to appeal the FIU decision. 

Novum Riga board member Arturs Eglitis admits that the foundation's donors used to include some offshore companies in the past. "For the last couple of years we have only been working with donations from Latvia, made primarily by the foundation's founders, their companies and private individuals from Latvia. As for the foundation's history, it was originally created as ABLV Banl's corporate foundation. Responding to its fundraising campaigns were foreign companies, foreign clients of various banks," said Eglitis, noting that companies registered in such low-tax territories as the Netherlands and the United States are not banned and receiving donations from such companies is not prohibited either. 

Novum Riga has been established in 2006. The fund has public benefit status and its operations are supervised by the State Revenue Service.