Central banker Rimšēvičs to face additional money-laundering charge

Latvian central bank governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs has had the charge sheet against him further extended with an accusation of money-laundering added to the charge he already faced of soliciting a massive bribe, reported the Bloomberg financial newswire June 4.

According to Bloomberg, prosecutors have added an attempt to launder 250,000 euros to the existing charge of soliciting a bribe of that size from a bank. The new charge carries a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison, whereas the original charge carried a maximum penalty of 11 years, the newswire added.

Since the scandal broke early last year, various legal wrangles and investigations have been underway, but the main case against the central banker, who also sits on the board of the European Central bank, has yet to make its way through the courts and all the indications are that Latvia's notoriously slow legal system will see this case grind on well past December, when the governor's term of office expires.

Rimšēvičs has maintained his innocence on all charges and refused to step down from the position he has held since 2001.

Though suspended from working at the bank for several months, he returned to work after a European court ruled it had been wrong to suspend him before any convictions had been obtained or compelling evidence against him had been presented in public.

He is due to give a press conference on June 7 about the macro-economic situation in Latvia but attention continues to focus on the unprecedented nature of the charges against him, a situation which has further complicated Latvia's attempts to present itself as having cleaned up its financial sector.

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