Latvian banks step up vigilance

  • 2005-12-07
  • From wire reports
RIGA - The anti-money laundering authority announced that so far this year it has suspended transactions worth a total of 2.2 million lats (3.1 million euros) on suspicion of money laundering.

Viesturs Burkans, head of the Service for Prevention of Laundering of Criminal Proceeds, said that by Dec. 1 this year the service signed 50 orders for suspending suspicious bank transactions.

Over the 11 months, the service sent 139 files to law enforcement authorities with information on suspicious fund transfers, including 73 reports involving illegal proceeds and 66 on cases where illegal proceeds were both made and laundered.

Latvian authorities came under heavy criticism this year after U.S. authorities blacklisted two local banks for what it claimed were typical money laundering operations.

In the past U.S. officials have been critical of Latvian inaction on the issue. Creation of the service is one of the country's responses.

Burkans said that this year the service had cooperated with anti-money laundering agencies in 59 other countries. "Those agencies request assistance and information from us, and we also receive the same from other countries," he said.

He said that most often the service cooperated with Russian and Ukrainian anti-money laundering agencies.

The Latvia Service for Prevention of Laundering of Criminal Proceeds is a state agency specifically formed for the purpose and operates under the supervision of the prosecutor's office. The service's functions include systematizing and analyzing reports about unusual and suspicious financial transactions and, in cases provided for under the law, forwarding information to control, investigation and judicial bodies