Latvia Is a Small Country Eager to Fix a Big Money-Laundering Problem
18 Jul 2019

One was a dodgy investment adviser who used a pyramid scheme to bilk unsuspecting Russians out of $10 million. Another was a Taiwanese businessman who was secretly helping North Korea buy precision tools for its nuclear weapons program. Yet another was a corrupt Ukrainian politician spiriting millions of embezzled dollars out of his country.

For years, according to the authorities in Europe and the United States, some banks in the drowsy Baltic port city of Riga specialized in helping these and other criminals wipe their fingerprints off dirty money before it was moved to offshore havens.

Recent scandals at the Scandinavian banks Swedbank and Danske Bank have exposed more instances of substantial sums of suspicious money flowing through the Baltics. The bad publicity has driven honest investment away while intensifying the pressure being applied by the United States, which is trying to block North Korea and blacklisted Russians from evading financial sanctions.

In response, Latvian officials have promised to crack down on the corrupt banks that made the country one of the world’s pre-eminent money-laundering centers, especially for money flowing out of Russia.

By Jack Ewing, The New York Times, 17 July 2019

Read more at The New York Times

Photo: Diego Delso [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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