29 Jun 2018
AP — The Latvian official on the European Central Bank’s top policy-making board will be prosecuted for bribery in a scandal that has highlighted the EU country’s problems with corruption and money laundering.
The Latvian prosecutor-general’s move on Thursday follows four months of investigation into Ilmars Rimsevics, the head of the country’s central bank who was first questioned in February over taking bribes.
Rimsevics denies all wrongdoing and his lawyer declined to comment Thursday. Rimsevics has in the past said he is the target of a smear campaign by commercial banks.
The Associated Press has reported one banker’s tale of being asked repeatedly by Rimsevics for bribes and also to launder money from Russia.
The allegations raised questions about foreign influence of a key European official, and Latvian secret services are investigating that link.
Rimsevics has had his access to state secrets revoked and is barred from carrying out his job. He cannot, however, be fired by the government because the central bank is politically independent.
Because Rimesvics is on the ECB’s top policymaking board, his case has gained international significance.
Worried about not being able to function properly with a board member missing, the ECB has asked the European Court of Justice to rule on whether Rimsevics should be allowed to continue in his job while not convicted of a crime.
The ECB declined to comment Thursday.
Its president, Mario Draghi, said earlier this month that “the ECB isn’t taking any side in this,” but is trying to make sure it can function properly.
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