Rīga wants to be European anti-money laundering capital

Latvia has hopes of transforming its former reputation as a money laundering hub into that of an anti-money laundering hub with confirmation from the Ministry of Finance (FM) that Rīga will bid to become home to a new European agency, the European Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA).

The Ministry confirmed October 13 that Latvia will apply to host the AMLA headquarters.

"The candidacy is an important contribution to strengthening the country’s image and reputation, positioning Latvia as a safe investment and sustainable economic destination, and demonstrates Latvia’s capacity and readiness to host a major EU agency and ensure its functionality and adequate infrastructure," said a FM statement.

"Latvia has extensive and internationally recognised experience in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. The possibility of hosting an agency of this level in Rīga would strengthen Latvia’s status as a European center of competence in the field of the prevention of money laundering and terrorism and proliferation financing," it added.

An accompanying video about the bid (above) draws attention to Rīga's offering, which includes being "a key city between tradition and innovation", "between past and future" and "a gatekeeper to the European Union." An extended metaphor involving keys, doors, locks and so on is employed (crossed keys are one of the Latvian capital's traditional symbols).

"By choosing Rīga, the Anti Money Laundering Authority would contribute to the geographical balance and unity of the European Union," it claims.

Various officials in the financial sector and government then make their sales pitches, inviting AMLA to choose Rīga as the place for their new HQ. A promotional brochure has also been produced which outlines Rīga's offer. It names Talejas street (already home to the tax authority) and the Preses Nama Kvartāls as potential sites for AMLA to occupy.

"Latvia has had a unique experience with AML – once having been a hot spot for less-than-savory financial dealings, the system has been entirely reshaped to crack down on fi nancial crime. Because of its geographical location, Latvia is always in a state of vigilance (to a higher degree than other EU member states would have to be)," the brochure says. 

Rīga will face stiff competition from many other European cities that are also bidding to host AMLA, including Dublin, Madrid, Paris, Vienna, Rome and Vilnius.

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