Rimšēvičs remembers "hint" of bribery

The still-serving Latvian central bank governor, Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, said February 22 he had heard hints at bribery while going about his business but had never taken a bribe.

Speaking to the Bloomberg financial newswire's television division, Rimšēvičs said, when asked if he had ever been offered a bribe:

"Never. I have been hinted. I have been hinted, but these are very thin-ice things, you never know how these things are..."

Asked if he had reported that "hint" he replied:

"No. Well, that's a good question because usually you think 'Okay, maybe I misunderstood, let's see how things are developing', but, you know, the Bank of Latvia, the most important thing is we have nothing to do with commercial banking supervision."

He added that he regretted that he didn't report the hint of bribery.

It is true that the central bank is not the regulator - that is the Financial and Capital Markets Commission (FKTK) and Rimšēvičs has repeatedly denied exerting any pressure on that organization.

Nevertheless earlier in the interview he said he had personally intervened to make commercial banks undertake tests from auditing companies in 2015.

"At that moment I decided to step in and to produce the program called, let's say, do the health check of commercial banks of Latvia, but not by the local doctors, by the U.S. law firms... it took me almost a year to persuade the banks, to persuade the commercial banking association that there is no other way but we have to do that," he told Bloomberg.

He also said he had spoken with members of the European Central Bank about continuing his duties in Frankfurt but that he had not spoken with ECB head Mario Draghi directly.

Meanwhile Grigory Guseļnikov, owner of Norvik Bank, in an interview with Latvian Television, said that he had evidence to confirm his assertion that Rimšēvičs had solicited a bribe (though it should be pointed out that this is not the case for which Rimšēvičs is being investigated). 

Guselnikov promised to submit his evidence to the State Police.

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