Anti-money laundering chief optimistic over meeting Moneyval recommendations

Take note – story published 5 years and 4 months ago

Ilze Znotiņa, Latvia's top anti-money laundering official, is now optimistic over Latvia's abilities to introduce Council of Europe Moneyval's recommendations over anti-money laundering on time, she told LTV February 22.

Latvia has been made subject to "follow-up" procedures by Moneyval for insufficient measures to fight the flow of illicit proceeds.

Znotiņa said that she's optimistic over Latvia following Moneyval recommendations and "even if we don't quite make it on time, the overall feeling is very good."

Znotiņa stressed that work at cleaning up the financial sector will not stop with introducing Moneyval recommendations.

She admitted that last year banks actively worked on reviewing client portfolios and that the number of reports grew from 18,000 in 2017 to 35,000 in 2018. Now, however "the process has slowed down", leading her to hope that the number of suspicious banks has decreased and that there won't be any more large-scale reports.

Commenting the possible Swedbank involvement in the Danske Bank money laundering scandal, Znotiņa said that current information seems to be related to past events, but that it should be checked nonetheless.

"The info we have currently allows us to make conciliatory judgement, but not reacting at all would be inappropriate," she said.

She said that while Swedbank is a very important bank for Latvia's economy, current information doesn't make it look like there's a crisis. 

Swedbank, the largest bank by assets in Latvia, was fined €1.36 million for anti-money laundering violations in 2016

Moneyval is a Council of Europe body that has evaluated the Latvian Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing system.

The report, published in 2018, came on a particularly intense year that saw ABLV Bank -- which was the country's third-largest bank -- fold itself after being hit by US sanctions over anti-money laundering.

In turn, Latvia hastily introduced a number of initiatives designed to curb the flow of illicit proceeds. 

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