U.S. think-tank defends itself on Latvia banking paper

U.S. think-tank the Atlantic Council on August 3 issued a lengthy statement saying it "stands with Latvia" following publication of a Re:Baltica/Buzzfeed piece questioning its indirect link to Latvia's non-resident banks via one of its senior members.

After a long list of its past activities involving Latvia, the Atlantic Council says it also stands by economist Anders Aslund, who accepted a private commission to produce a paper paid for by several of Latvia's non-resident banks, including ABLV bank, as previously reported by LSM.

"Buzzfeed and Re:Baltica have suggested that a paper Dr. Aslund prepared in his private capacity raises questions about the Council’s transparency," writes Damon M. Wilson, the Atlantic Council's executive vice president. 

In this case, Aslund accepted a private assignment with no affiliation with the Council to research and prepare a paper that attempts to provide a baseline of developments and reforms in Latvia’s banking sector.

"All Latvian-owned banks have been excluded from correspondent banking in US dollars, which is a serious challenge for Latvia," said Wilson. 

"Consistent with Council conflict of interest rules, Aslund disclosed the outside income and prepared the paper with no Council support or involvement. Contrary to what has been reported, an Atlantic Council board member did not “commission” this report for Dr. Aslund or the funder in question," the statement said, before adding: "The board member did introduce Dr. Aslund to the private entity but was not involved in the development or funding of this report."

The paper at the center of the controversy can be read online.


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