Latvian government backs special economic crimes court

The Latvian government on November 5 supported a Justice Ministry plan to establish a specialized economic affairs court that will start operating as of January 1, 2021.

However, Interior Minister Sandis Ģirģens (KPV LV) spoke against the legislative amendments and minister also called for an audit of the judicial sector before adopting new regulations. The bill was supported by all ministers, except Ģirģens.

The first instance of the specialized court would employ four judges and six court employees. The creation of the first instance court would cost EUR 384,005, and EUR 334,369 will be allocated from the base funding.

According to the Justice Ministry, the intention would be for the court "to ensure rapid and high quality proceedings concerning complex commercial disputes, corruption, economic and financial crimes" allowing it to process cases involving economic crimes, such as money-laundering, in a faster fashion than is currently the case in the mainstream judicial system.

It would be another piece of the government's desire to show that it has turned a corner as far as prosecution of financial crimes is concerned, as Latvia seeks to shed its previous reputation as being soft on money-laundering, offshore tax evasion and similar financial sector crimes.

The bill has yet to be considered by the Saeima. 

Annotations of the draft law are available (in Latvian) at the Cabinet of Ministers website.

Speaking to journalists after the cabinet meeting that took the decision, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said: 

"We know that in the context of the financial sector improvement, the fight against dirty money is very important."

Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns said the decision "could be a turning point for the Latvian court system" and that the new court would be designed to be "fair, quick and effective" with judges possessing all the necessary specialization and training.



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