Expert's Latvian non-resident banking report questioned

A new investigation by online news portal Buzzfeed in collaboration with members of the Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism, Re:Baltica focuses on a foreign expert and a report on Latvia's non-resident banks.

In a story published July 30 on Buzzfeed, it is stated that Anders Aslund, a well-known Swedish commentator on economic affairs was hired via an intermediary by a consortium of Latvian banks specializing in higher-risk non-resident business.

He subsequently produced a paper describing how those same banks had made great strides in combating money laundering and so no longer posed a "serious concern for money laundering."

The paper was presented four months before before the U.S. authorities launched a dramatic crackdown on one Latvian non-resident bank, ABLV, over "institutionalized money laundering", that sent it into liquidation and prompted far more dramatic action on enforcement of anti-money-laundering measures among the remaining non-resident banks than had been seen up until that point.

Aslund, who in the past co-authored a book with then-Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis called How Latvia Came Through The Financial Crisis, is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think-tank based in the U.S. and regularly comments on Latvia in international media.

The paper was presented at an Atlantic Council event in Washington in October 2017, but it was not classed as an official Atlantic Council publication.

Aslund denied any impropriety or conflict of interest to Buzzfeed and said he stood by the report's findings saying "My verdict was they had done a lot, while I was careful not to say they had done enough."

The full story can be read at Buzzfeed.

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