RIGA - The number of persons who are being probed in the criminal case over the laundering of EUR 50 million through the to-be-liquidated ABLV Bank has increased to 13, law enforcement authorities informed.
On January 30, prosecutor Dainis Steinbergs told journalists that a total of 12 persons were being probed as part of the criminal case. Six of them featured as official suspects. There were four foreign national among the suspects in the case.
Laura Majevska, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General's Office, told LETA on Thursday that now five foreign nationals have been declared suspects. Consequently, the total number of persons featuring in the probe has grown to 13.
As reported, as part of the money laundering probe proceedings have also been launched also against ABLV Bank's shareholder and former board chairman Ernests Bernis, according to Latvian public television's morning news program De Facto.
Bernis told law enforcement institutions that he knew nothing about money laundering activities at the bank. He is not acquainted with businessman Andris Putnins arrested last week or Russian citizen Vjacheslav Ivanov, the leader of the organized group, according to the prosecutor's office. The group also includes a Swiss financier, several Belarus citizens and former head of ABLV Bank's representation in Minsk, Jevgenij Terjohin, who is the third person arrested in the case so far.
According to the prosecutor's office, until January 2016, Putnins in an organized group with a number of foreign citizens - Ivanov, Terjohin, Herbert Herger, Kristian Fuso, Siarhei Lashakou, Aliaksei Likhtarovich and Artiom Kolesnik - registered companies with bank accounts in several countries for the purpose of money laundering.
Estonian company iPeak International, Latvia's Innotecnica GmbH and a branch of this company in Switzerland are the companies in which Putnins was an official and owner, being aware that these companies will not do any business.
In two years, the companies laundered at least EUR 50 million that finally were transferred to accounts in ABLV Bank.
"The evidence suggests that some bank employees abetted money laundering and provided advice how to perform the transactions so that they do not look suspicious," said prosecutor Dainis Steinbergs in a press conference.
One of the suspects in the case is private banker Andris Ovsjannikovs who was arrested last week.
In total, seven former employees of ABLV Bank are involved in the criminal procedure.
The Economic Police launched the criminal procedure in October 2018, while the prosecutor's office took it over quite recently.