New anti-money laundering Action Plan floated

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The Financial Sector Development Council, a working group called by Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis in the wake of the ABLV bank scandal, on 11 September approved an action plan to strengthen Latvia’s anti-money laundering capabilities, and its ability to combat the financing of terrorism and weapons
proliferation, a statement from the government press office said.

"The action plan outlines steps Latvia must take immediately to demonstrate significant progress on the recommendations of the 5th Round Evaluation Report of the Council of Europe's Moneyval Committee on the effectiveness of Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (AML/CTF) measures," the statement said.

It replaces a previous plan, which outlined steps to fight money laundering and terrorist financing for the period 2017-2019 but signally failed to impress U.S. authorities which accused ABLV of institutionalized money-laundering and blew open Latvian boutique banks' roles in a variety of massive money-laundering and sanctions-busting schemes.

Since then, officials have been scrambling to introduce reforms to restore the reputation of the banking sector.

The current plan addresses 11 areas identified in the Moneyval report in which the Latvian
government needed to improve its effectiveness, specifically:

1. Policy and Coordination;
2. International Cooperation;
3. Supervision;
4. Preventive Measures;
5. Legal persons and arrangements;
6. Financial Intelligence;
7. Money Laundering Investigations and Prosecutions;
8. Confiscation;
9. Terrorist Financing Investigation and Prosecution;
10. Terrorist Financing Preventive Measures and Financial Sanctions;
11. Proliferation of Financial Sanctions.

"Implementation of the action plan will require additional resources from the state budget," the statement said, without specifying how much this might amount to.

The Cabinet of Ministers will meet "in the upcoming weeks" to review and approve the action
plan, it added.

LSM asked if a copy of the plan was available to read but was told the text would only be released after it had been approved by cabinet following discussions "in the coming weeks".

Meanwhile, as previously reported by LSM the government has committed to providing "continuous innovation, full transparency, and robust anti-money laundering (AML) compliance across its financial sector," and has started publishing what it promises will be regular English-language updates via a newsletter to convince the international community it is serious about the reforms. You can subscribe to the newsletter at the official cabinet office website. So far, two newsletters have been produced. 

The second one begins with Finance Minister Dana Rezniece-Ozola claiming rather boldly: "Latvia has proved that despite difficult times, it has the courage and the will to do things that may seem impossible to others, but later serve as a model for them to emulate."



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