Latvia and U.S. touch base on banking sector clean-up

Latvian Minister of Finance Jānis Reirs on April 10 met with a key U.S. official who "praised the Government's efforts in straightening out the financial sector," according to a release frmo his Ministry.

During a working visit Reirs met with the US Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, Marshall Billingslea, to update him on the Latvian Government's financial sector control reforms, the so-called “Overhaul”.

"During the meeting, Mr. Billingslea praised both what the Government has accomplished in such a short period and their future plans for straightening out the financial sector in Latvia," a statement said.

"The Minister stated that the Government is continuing work on straightening out the financial sector in order to strengthen the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing and to achieve full compliance with international standards in this area," it continued.

“The Government's reform aims to strengthen the financial sector regulator and its ability to fight financial crimes, as well as improve coordination with partners to achieve an effective outcome. The common goal of the institutions that make up the Latvian financial sector is to create and guarantee a stable and secure financial sector and to ensure that the Latvian anti-money laundering system is one of the most effective in Europe,” Reirs was quoted as saying during the meeting.

The government says it is committed to taking immediate steps to strengthen Latvia's capacity to fight money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as to improve the regulation of the liquidation of credit institutions. The Cabinet of Ministers has already approved amendments to the Finance and Capital Market Commission (FKTK) Law and the Law on Credit Institutions prepared by the Ministry of Finance - though FKTK, Latvia's financial sector regulator, is fighting back against the proposed changes to its status.

Billingslea will return to Latvia in May of this year, having previously done so a year ago, when he spoke to LSM in the wake of the U.S.' stern criticism of ABLV bank over alleged money-laundering, which sent it into liquidation.

From 8 to 14 April Reirs, will participate in the spring meetings of representatives for the World Bank Group (WBG) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, USA.

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