Criminal case against ABLV Bank employees heads to court

The prosecutor's office has handed over to the courts a criminal case in which several senior former employees of ABLV Bank are accused of laundering 2.1 billion euros, according to the information at the disposal of the LETA news agency.

In the case, a total of eight persons are accused of money laundering on a massive scale of criminally obtained financial assets.

According to pre-trial criminal proceedings, it is alleged that between May 1, 2010 and February 15, 2018, criminally obtained financial assets of other persons in foreign countries were legalized in the amount of at least 263,538,182 euros and 948,641,578 US dollars (1,912,737,857 euros).

Five members of the suspected organized group held responsible positions in the credit institution at the time of committing the crime. The information available to LETA shows that these defendants are the former co-owner of the bank Ernests Bernis, the former vice-chairman of the board Vadims Reinfelds, as well as Aleksandrs Paže, Igors Rogovs and Kaspars Dreimanis.

The case has been transferred to the specialist Court of Economic Affairs.

As previously reported by LSM, ABLV Bank's problems arose after the US Department of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ("FinCEN") announced in mid-February 2018 that it planned to impose sanctions on ABLV Bank for large-scale money laundering schemes that helped North Korea's nuclear weapons program, as well as illegal activities in Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine.

The report published by "FinCEN" also stated that until 2017, the management of ABLV Bank used bribery to influence officials in Latvia, trying to prevent legal actions directed against it and to reduce the danger of having its high-risk activities exposed. The bank subsequently had its license revoked by the European Central Bank and went into a controversial process of so-called "self liquidation".

ABLV Bank's representatives have rejected the accusations, and the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) has announced that it has not found evidence of the involvement of "ABLV Bank" management in bribery, as "FinCEN" had claimed in its report.

As recently reported by LSM, Latvia's Minister of Finance in June asked the U.S. to lift remaining restrictions on the remnants of ABLV.

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