Latvian banks wrote money laundering «manuals» say investigative journalists

Several Latvian banks actively helped clients perpetuate money-laundering offshore schemes according to new claims by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

The investigation by respected journalists Arta Giga and Graham Stack says at least three Latvian-based banks not only facilitated offshore scams but actually handed out detailed instructions on how to circumvent regulators and set up false paper trails. 

"Documents leaked to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) from Latvian banks appear to offer instructions to clients on how to use fake offshore companies associated with the bank to launder money or evade taxes," the report says.

"Riga, the Latvian capital, has long been home to a thriving offshore banking sector that has helped criminals and corrupt officials to siphon stolen money from the former Soviet countries," it adds.

According to the journalists, banks give advice on how to provide bogus invoices for goods - never services - that are part of a complex international network of offshore companies used to launder money.

The report names the Latvian subsidiary of Ukraine's PrivatBank, Baltic International Bank and Regional Investment Bank as among the financial institutions using such underhand methods.

In one of the most damning parts of the report says:

"Documents also instruct clients how to write plausible fictitious contracts to support wire payments 'in the light of stricter requirements from the regulatory organs'.

“The delivery conditions specified in the contract or invoice should be realistic: When you specify goods, you have to think how they are going to be 'shipped' (weight of the cargo, volumes, address of the manufacturing plant, type of transport: road, rail or ship.) In the case of 'shipping' of goods with very large volume or size, please specify a factory close to railroad or port,” one bank allegedly advises its clients.

The banks themselves declined to comment in detail on the allegations, as did the Latvian financial regulator.

The full report can be read HERE and the video below summarises the findings.

 

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