Moldova moves on alleged Latvia-linked $20bn money laundering scheme

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Moldovan prosecutors are moving to charge "four to five" bankers connected with an alleged massive money laundering scheme that pumped up to $20bn of stolen Russian money first via Moldova and then via Latvia into the European Union's banking system, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

Vasile Sarco, head of Moldova's anti-money laundering force told the news agency an investigation was nearly completed and charges would be brought in the near future.

As reported by LSM August 25, an investigative journalism report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) implicated Latvia's relatively small Trasta Komercbanka boutique bank in a vast 20-billion-dollar Russian money-laundering scheme that involves Moldovan businesses, UK offshore companies and the Latvian bank as a 'gateway' bringing the money into the EU banking system.

If the claims are accurate, the scam would be the largest of its kind ever seen in Eastern Europe and one of the biggest worldwide.

However despite the vast sums involved, which potentially pose a serious threat to Latvia's reputation as a transparent financial market, local reaction has been negligible.

In a September 4 press conference, Kristaps Zakulis, head of Latvia's financial regulator the Financial and Capital Markets Commission (FKTK) said that while he was aware of the case he would not disclose what investigations or penalties, if any, were being considered.

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