bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Ceturtdiena 23.02.2017 | Name days: Haralds, Almants
LatviaLatvia

Charges raised against Rietumu Bank in money laundering case in France

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUCharges have been raised against Rietumu Bank and its governor, Aleksandr Pankov, in the massive criminal case regarding money laundering in France, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV. The main figure accused in this criminal case is the former head of France Offshore Nadav Bensoussan, who is called the King of Offshores in France.

The so-called Panama documents show that he was among Mossack Fonseca’s clients that had frequently used Rietumu Bank’s services.

Five years ago, a documentary was produced with an ironic title ‘We are all going to tax paradise’. This film followed Nadav Bensoussan’s path during his visit to Riga. The film showed Bensoussan demonstrating France Offshore’s advertisement stand at Riga Airport. After that, he visited the company’s local office in Old Riga. His next stop was Rietumu Bank’s main building on Vesetas Street. There he met with the bank’s Vice-Governor Ruslan Stecjuk.

Rietumu Bank no longer wishes to speak of any cooperation with France Offshore. The only response received from the bank’s press-secretary Eleonora Gailiša in regards to additional questions sent by email was: «Please explain which part of ‘Rietumu Bank will not provide any additional comments and replies’ you did not understand?»

The first news about Rietumu Bank’s ties to Bensoussan first appeared at the end of 2012. The media had reported that an employee of some Latvian bank’s representation in France had been arrested as part of the investigation France Offshore’s possible tax avoidance activities. The name of the Latvian bank was not revealed at the time. Nevertheless, it was clear that it was Rietumu Bank’s office in France.

Now it is known that the interrogated employee was the head of Rietumu Bank’s office in Paris Sergei Schuka. His name was mentioned by De Facto in its last week’s edition in regards to Panama documents. The leaked documents show that Nadav Bensoussan had provided instructions to Mossack Fonseca, specifically to the company’s Riga office manager Teo de Regibus, in 2007. Those instructions stated that the offshore company’s documents were to be sent to Rietumu Bank’s in Riga via courier service. Schuka’s name was mentioned on the envelope.

The investigation in France is now over – the case has been submitted to the prosecutor. Soon the final charges will become known. The case may be submitted to court at the end of the year. There are at least fifteen accused people in this case. Some of them are from Latvia, as French National Financial Crimes Deputy Prosecutor Ulrika Delaunay-Weiss told De Facto: «The judge has raised charges against Rietumu Bank, as well as Mr. Pankov, who is the bank’s governor in Latvia.»

Chairman of the Board of Rietumu Bank Aleksandr Pankov has appealed the charges raised against him in France’s Supreme Court of Justice – French legislation allows that. Rietumu Bank had previously appealed another procedural decision, but the plea was declined in the end. This meant paying EUR 20 million as bail. The bank did not carry out the payment. It was the reason why Pankov earned one of two accusations in 2014. «The first breach was the bank’s failure to exact the payment of EUR 20 million as bail. The second breach was the vice-president’s assistance in money laundering activities,» – said prosecutor Delaunay-Weiss.

The prosecution believes Nadav Bensoussan formed a group to help French residents to launder money using offshore companies. It happened in the period of 2006-2012. One of the banks that serviced offshore accounts was Rietumu Bank. The prosecutor did not mention any exact amounts of money processed by the group. Nevertheless, the French media had previously mentioned an amount somewhere around EUR 700 million and several hundred accounts. According to the prosecutor, it looks like Bensoussan has had a special partnership with Rietumu Bank.

Was the bank aware that Bensoussan’s actions were illegal? «This is the position of the investigative judge. This is why charges have been raised against the bank. He believes that the bank and certain officials were aware that the entire affair was one big money laundering scheme,» – added the prosecutor.

As soon as news about the investigation in Paris first surfaced, the Finance and Capital Market Commission announced its own investigation. Results of this investigation remain unknown, however. FCMC refuses to reveal them. It is also unknown, whether the penalties applied to Rietumu Bank in the last several years were related to France Offshore case.

When asked about the France Offshore Case, FCMC Council member Gvido Romeiko said: «We know a conflict exists. We currently maintain discussions with the bank. We see that one side has certain arguments. We also understand that the French investigative institution also has arguments in this case. We cannot say which side will win.»

It should be added that Rietumu Bank is also active on the securities market. At the end of 2012, the bank mentioned in its announcement in the exchange system: «Rietumu Bank has not received any complaints or criticisms from French law enforcement institutions as of yet. An employee of the bank has been interrogated as part of an ongoing investigation.»

There were no news about France Offshore from Rietumu Bank after that – nothing about any charges against the bank, nothing about the EUR 20 million bail or even the criticisms addressed to the chairman of the board. Did this not breach requirements listed in the Financial Instruments Market Law in regards to informing the exchange? FCMC monitors this field, as well. However, FCMC council member Yelena Lebedeva failed to provide a clear answer to this question: «There is one quantitative criterion for notable events – ten per cent of the bank or the issuer’s own equity. In this case, all amounts are smaller. With that, it is not possible to tell from the law’s viewpoint as to what should be reported. All conditions should be assessed in this case.»

FCMC council members also categorically deny that the treatment of Rietumu Bank is mild in comparison with smaller credit institutions. The commission also adds that it is an autonomous body. With that, there can be no political influence over it.

The ties of Rietumu Bank with politicians are clearly detailed on the website of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau. The bank’s co-owners and hired employees have been regularly donating money to political parties for years.

Rietumu Bank’s Governor Aleksandr Pankov was also a member of the council of Latvian Commercial Banks Association at one point. He left this post after Rietumu Bank announced its decision to leave the association. The organization admits – they have heard of the problems in France. Nevertheless, no one in the organization had asked Rietumu Bank to leave.

«Any actions related to criminal actions or other activities create risks for the reputation for any institutions and individuals involved, as well as the industry in general,» – admits LKA public relations specialist Baiba Melnace. She adds that the situation is the same in any other industry; it is not specific only for the banking sector.

Ref: 102.109.109.8952


Leave a reply

EC: Latvia’s tax structure does not contribute to growth

«Latvia’s economic growth will be relatively rapid, but income inequality is a major problem that needs to be prevented,» concluded the European Commission in the latest report on economic development of member states.

Study in schools proves connection between health problems and classroom air

Microbiologists in Finland have extensively analysed the health of school teachers and stated that it has been scientifically proved for the first time that there is a direct connection between the quality of air in rooms and human health.

Only five asylum seekers remain in Latvia

Only five asylum seekers resettled in Latvia as part of the EU refugee resettlement programme currently remain in the country – one family of three and two individuals, one of which intends to leave the country in the near future, said manager of Safe Home asylum Sandra Zalcmane told 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Ascendum: the country needs a strong NGO sector

Non-governmental organizations do not wish to play the role of a guard dog in the work with the government and state administration, because Latvia’s civil society is mature enough to the an equal cooperation partner for the government, states Ascendum association.

State has to register adoptions by same-sex couples, Estonian court rules

According to a ruling by the Tallinn administrative court, the Estonian Interior Ministry should have made entered in the population register adoptions made by a same-sex couple that has registered its partnership.

Dobeles dzirnavnieks: organic animal feed – Latvia’s potential export product

Latvian grains processing company Dobeles dzirnavnieks has commenced production of organic animal feed, adding that it is a potential export product.

CAMART2 – most massive project in Latvia’s scientific history

The biggest project in Latvia’s scientific history – CAMART2 – has been opened in a positive atmosphere. «Commencement of the largest international scientific project in our country’s history once again proves the high level of competence of our scientists. With CAMART2, Latvia becomes a Baltic Silicon Valley,» says Latvian Education and Science Minister Karlis Sadurskis.

EUR 1.8 million to be invested in Estonian new e-Police

With the development of Estonia’s new e-Police system continuing, it is planned to invest 1.8 million euros in its third stage, as police expect a faster and more practical revamp of the current software and procedure.

Latvia to procure nearly fifty used howitzers; first ones to be supplied in autumn

Latvian National Armed Forces will sign an agreement with Austrian Defence and Sports Ministry for the procurement of M109 series 155mm self-propelled artillery system. This agreement includes not only the procurement of howitzers, but also fire support centre and driver training platform procurement, as reported by Latvian Defence Ministry.

Credit institutions in Latvia to secure payment accounts for all residents

From now on all residents will be provided with the option to use payment account service in credit institutions, as reported by Saeima press-service.

90 years – such average life expectancy forecast for women in South Korea

Women in South Korea would be the first among other countries to reach an average life expectancy of over 90 years, scientists conclude.

Industry experts wish to reduce VAT on food in Latvia

During the first meeting, industry experts began considering opportunities for reducing value added tax rate on food or certain food product groups.

Swedish police investigate riot in Stockholm

Police in Sweden has started an investigation into a riot that broke out this week a mainly immigrant part of Stockholm.

Expert: Latvia still has the highest unemployment level among Baltics

«Tendencies on the labour market will become more positive this year. Queues of unemployed people are expected to decline more quickly. Unemployment will be reduced by negative demographic trends too, but there will not be any sharp changes.

Augulis: Pasažieru vilciens has to resolve the matter with procurement of 32 trains

The greatest challenge for Pasažieru vilciens this year will be the continuation of the procurement procedure of new trains. This project is expected to conclude with the successful procurement of 32 new trains by the end of the year, says Latvian Transport Minister Uldis Augulis.

EU: Privacy settings in Windows 10 are concerning

Representatives of EU’s member state data protection watchdogs have stated that concern remains about privacy settings on Microsoft Windows 10 operating system, although the software firm has announced some changes to its installation.

Non-declaration of cash to be applied with fine equal to 5% of the amount

In the event of non-declaration of cash money when crossing the border of the Republic of Latvia, a fine equal to 5% of the amount will be applied. This was decided by the Cabinet of Ministers during the viewing of Finance Ministry’s amendments to the Law on Declaration of Cash at the State Border.

KNAB commences criminal process against state environmental inspector

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has commenced a criminal process against the senior environmental inspector of the Nature Protection Office’s North-Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve for requesting a bribe, KNAB reports.

Oil prices around the world have no unified tendency

Oil prices around the world had no unified tendency in the morning on Tuesday, 21 February. Optimism regarding the ability of oil exporter organizations and oil producer countries to realize the agreement on reduction of oil volumes does remain on the market.

Estonian anti-humantrafficking helpline contacted by 420 people last year

As human trafficking-related crime is on the rise in Estonia, a special helpline, received calls from 420 people last year, with people reporting mostly, when they are already in trouble not preventively.

Viewing of Lembergs and For Latvian and Ventspils criminal case continues

On Tuesday, 21 February, Riga Regional Court will continue reviewing the criminal case involving Aivars Lembergs and For Latvia and Ventspils. In it, Lembergs is accused of bribery, document forgery and other crimes.

State Border Guard apprehend 32 perpetrators

On Monday, 20 February, officers of the Latvian State Border Guard apprehended 32 perpetrators attempting to illegally cross the state border.

Trump calls Estonia «valued ally and friend» in letter to Kaljulaid

In letter to Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid on the occasion of the upcoming 99th anniversary of the independence of Estonia, U.S. President Donald Trump has referred to the Baltic country as «a valued ally and friend».

Caksa: low wages cause deficit of doctors in many places

Because of low wages, tension and concern are felt in many fields of medicine, said Healthcare Minister Anda Caksa in an interview to Rīta panorama programme of LTV.

Authorities to perform in-depth assessment to prevent existing problems in legislation

Court Administration, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development will perform an in-depth assessment to identify existing legislative problems that create an administrative burden for businesses.

Newest comments