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British banker takes charge at Latvia's troubled PrivatBank

PrivatBank Latvia, which was recently hit with a record-breaking fine by regulators in connection with money-laundering, on Thursday announced the appointment of British banker Aleksandar Kukic as its chairman. 

"Aleksandar joins PrivatBank Latvia from JPMorgan London, where he was an Executive Director. The proposed candidacy by the bank for new Chairman of the Board has been approved by the Financial and Capital Market Commission, which confirmed that the appointment of Aleksandar Kukic meets the requirements of Sections 24 and 25 of the Credit Institutions Law," the bank said in a statement.

“PrivatBank’s banking Group is primarily known worldwide as innovators. When I had a chance to take a closer look at the Bank's work, I was impressed by its unique technologies, the majority of them surpass the distinguished world giants’ projects," Kukic said.

He added that the bank would serve "residents of Latvia and the EU" - which would mark a major change in its business model which is currently focused on non-resident clients.

Kukic is a British financier of Bosnian origin with a master's degree from the UK Cass Business School, London. From 1999 to 2001 he was a credit risk analyst with Lazard Brothers, London. From 2001 to 2004 he was at ING, London, and in 2004 he joined the British J.P.Morgan Bank specialising in credit risk management of financial institutions and corporations in emerging markets.

According to the data of the Association of Latvian Commercial Banks, PrivatBank is ranked the 9th among Latvian banks in terms of equity and reserves.

However, Kukic will have plenty of work on his hands to clean up the bank's battered image after it was slapped with a record-breaking €2 million fine in December 2015 for "violation of the provisions of the Law on the Prevention of Laundering the Proceeds from Criminal Activity (Money Laundering) and of Terrorist Financing".

According to investigative journalist group OCCRP, the Ukrainian-owned bank is alleged to have been involved in a massive scam that saw a billion dollars sucked out of Moldova.

PrivatBank Latvia has also been accused of involvement in the notorious Magnitsky case.

PrivatBank’s net profit in January-November 2015 amounted to EUR 10.4 mln. According to AS PrivatBank financial report for the fourth quarter of 2015 the volume of the bank’s assets was EUR 655.872 mln; capital adequacy ratio – 21.02% (regulatory minimum – 13.1%); liquidity ratio – 66.43% (regulatory minimum – 50%).

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