Latvia's banking system made quicker for foreign investors

The Ministry of Economics (EM), the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA) together with the financial sector have developed a questionnaire for foreign investors intended to save time, EM told Latvian Radio September 18.

Foreign investors will have to complete a questionnaire before they wish to start their activities in Latvia. The purpose of the questionnaire is to find out the origin of the potential investor's money and what the company's true beneficiaries are. It will work like a sieve which will then help Latvian credit institutions to reduce the time of assessment of the new client, which is currently relatively long, especially for non-residents.

The system will be the following: the first stop of foreign investors will be LIAA, and only then will the banks assess the possibility of opening accounts in Latvia.

Economics Minister Janis Vitenbergs (“KPV LV”) explained that “only if there are no risks identified by the financial sector, or if identified risks are avoidable, only then do we tell companies to turn to the Latvian banks”.

"Many of the Belarusian companies we talked to already work in the US and Western Europe. We forecast that opening an account to Latvian credit institutions will not be too big of a challenge. The Latvian banks are also prepared to cooperate with other companies that will be able to demonstrate the source of their money and to show the true beneficiary correctly. That's good news,” the minister said.

The Minister said that communication would take place on both sides: Latvia, which works purposefully towards attracting investment, and foreign investors who assess Latvia's achievements in terms of financial security and economic growth.

Sanita Bajāre, head of the Finance Latvia Association, acknowledged that promoting cooperation with potential Belarusian companies is a pilot project that will help with investors from other countries.

Jānis Vitenbergs said that early next week there could be the first results of how potential investors react to this questionnaire, and he could then assess whether the introduction of such a questionnaire would help banks to reduce the time spent assessing new customers.

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