17 May 2019
Latvia came under renewed pressure to accelerate financial reforms as a senior U.S. official, at a meeting with its prime minister, underscored the urgent need for stricter controls after a money laundering scandal.
His remarks come more than a year after the United States acted to shut down ABLV, a Latvian bank it said was linked to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, to money laundering and Russian corruption.
Marshall Billingslea, who heads the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes at the U.S. Treasury, said during a visit to Latvia on Thursday that the Baltic state required “urgently needed legislation” that was “long overdue”.
“The new government is moving swiftly but there is a lot that has to be done,” said Billingslea, praising Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins’s intentions but highlighting the need for results. “The proof is in the pudding.”
The bank’s closure was the first in a series of European money-laundering scandals that later sucked in Nordic lenders, prompting a pan-European debate about how to control such financial crime.
By Gederts Gelzis, Reuters, 16 May 2019
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