Latvia's new banking sector clean-up group has its first meeting

The first meeting of a new "cooperation group" aimed at restoring the battered reputation of Latvia's banking sector met on May 9 and the government office has now released a video, with English subtitles, of the press conference held immediately afterwards, which can be viewed above.  

The press conference features Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis, financial regulator Pēters Putniņš and Johan Akerblom, a member of the board at Citadele bank.

Somewhat clunkily titled "The constructive dialogue facilitates the adjustment of Latvia's financial sector" it has all three giving their views on what progress was made in the first meeting of the new body and lasts 5 minutes.

Kučinskis started the ball rolling by saying all the members of the cooperation group agree that the cooperation group is "useful" and will help dig the sector out of a "crisis situation".

The cooperation group also heard about the formation of yet another "working group" which will work on removing the main anti-money laundering agency, the Control department, from the control of the Prosecutor General and making it an independent agency "by August 1st" the PM said, though he added the matter would not be discussed until the next meeting of the cooperation group.

"We also attached great importance to communication -- not so much communication within our country but within all the countries of the European Union," Kučinskis added, before claiming rather cryptically "There is often a lack of objective information outside Latvia about the ongoing changes in the Latvian financial sector."

As mentioned, the video does have English subtitles, but during the portion in which Akerblom is speaking English, there is also a Latvian voiceover.

"This kind of communication is very necessary in order to eliminate misunderstandings," said Putniņš.

As previously reported by LSM, officials are pulling out all the stops to prove to international partners they are finally serious about stopping money-laundering via Latvian banks after more than a decade of massive scandals in the sector that have seen money laundered to and from Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Moldova, Azerbaijan and elsewhere, often via the use of shell companies in offshore jurisdictions.

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