New anti-money laundering chief wants law changes, more money for staff

Latvia's new anti-money laundering chief Ilze Znotiņa has mapped out the future of the institution she'll be heading from June 1, reports LTV and LTV7.

Znotiņa, a lawyer by training, will be replacing Viesturs Burkāns, who has been heading the Kontroles dienests (Control department, KD) for the past twenty years, including the last decade when a series of massive money-laundering scandals have shattered confidence in the non-resident banking sector.

In an interview to LTV May 18, she outlined what she wants to change within the institution, which has historically kept a low profile. 

"I hope we'll be able to start anew and that we'll be able to start working with more energy," she said. "One of my goals is rewriting the Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism from scratch," 

"Being a lawyer...I can say it's very difficult to understand what the current law demands, and what its subjects must do," she said. "It must be changed, and we'll do it," she said, adding that PM Māris Kučinskis and other officials have supported her view. 

In a separate interview with LTV7 May 17, she said she also wants better wages for specialists at KD.

"If we want to improve the situation, we need to attract the best people," she said.

Currently a beginning analyst at the service earns a gross monthly wage of €800, while staff analysts and senior analysts receive monthly pay of respectively €1,200 and €1,300 before tax. The gross monthly wage in Latvia in 2017 was €926. 

According to Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers, law amendments increasing wages at the service are currently at the Saeima. 

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