Mario Draghi: ECB needs more information about Rimšēvičs situation

European Central Bank head Mario Draghi said March 8 the ECB was asking the European Court of Justice to assess the situation with regard to whether or not Latvian central bank governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs can carry out his duties as a member of the ECB's governing council.

"We don't have enough information and that's why today we are sending a letter to the European Court of Justice. The governing council has decided unanimously to ask for clarification by the court of justice of the European Union whether individual security measures imposed on the governor of Latvijas Banka by the Latvian anti-corruption authority on 19th February 2018 have had the effect of relieving him from office and [whether] these measures comply with Union law."

"So we are asking the ECJ for a clarification of the present situation," Draghi said.

Meanwhile in Latvia's Saeima, a motion from the Vienotiba (Unity) party calling on Rimšēvičs to stand down was debated.

The motion was purely advisory as neither the Saeima nor anyone else has the power to remove a central bank governor from office before his term is up and in the absence of a criminal conviction.

Supporting the motion, Lolita Čigane (Unity) called on the embattled governor to put national interests before personal interests while maverick independent MP Artuss Kaiminš addressed himself directly to Rimšēvičs saying: "You are the face of Latvia - you are no longer just Ilmars."

However, there were both constitutional and legal objections to the motion with some MPs saying it would do nothing but show the impotency of the Saeima and would set a dangerous precedent regarding presumption of innocence.

Others said the move was politicking with Julija Stepanenko of the Harmony party saying "This is nothing more than a pre-election pose," while Ringolds Balodis of the National Alliance said it made Saeima look "stupider and stupider".

Several MPs pointed out that Rimšēvičs had already ignored requests to step down from the state president, Saeima speaker and Prime Minister. 

The motion was eventually passed with 55 MPs calling on Rimšēvičs to step down, 2 abstaining from the motion and 23 choosing not to cast a vote (Saeima operates a curious system of both active and passive abstentions). 

Following the vote, Rimšēvičs said via his lawyer that the vote constituted "political pressure" and he would not be stepping down, the LETA news agency reported.

 

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