Latvia lobbies to have ABLV sanctions lifted by U.S.

The Bloomberg financial newswire reported June 2 that Latvian Minister of Finance Jānis Reirs is asking the United States to lift remaining restrictions on ABLV bank, which collapsed in 2018 in the immediate aftermath of U.S. allegations that it was involved in massive money-laundering.

Reirs made a personal appeal to US Treasury officials at a meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Washington in April, Bloomberg reported, arguing that the continued existence of the measures against ABLV – once Latvia's largest home-grown bank – were making other investors wary of entering the Latvian financial sector.

"'This is necessary for the state’s security, financial security and economic security," Reirs told Bloomberg.

Since ABLV went into liquidation an extensive clean-up has taken place in the Latvian banking sector, which won an unenviable reputation over many years as a haven for questionable cashflows from the east. According to Reirs, that clean-up has been effective and Latvia now feels it deserves to start again with a clean slate.

U.S. authorities on February 13, 2018 issued a "Section 311 finding" under the terms of the Patriot Act against the bank, a measure that grants the Secretary of the Treasury the authority, "upon finding that reasonable grounds exist for concluding that a foreign jurisdiction, institution, class of transaction, or type of account is of 'primary money laundering concern,' to require domestic financial institutions and financial agencies to take certain 'special measures' against the entity of primary money laundering concern."

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