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Sunday 18.08.2019 | Name days: Liene, Helēna, Elena, Ellena, Liena
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BNN summary of the week: Latvia’s problem with old politicians and FinCEN goals

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUBNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Growth; Business; Justice; Opinion; Fight; Future.

CHANGE: Latvian Saeima establishes ban for banks to service shell companies

Banks registered in Latvia will no longer be allowed to work with shell companies and service their accounts. This is provided by amendments to the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing approved by the Saeima on Thursday, 26 April, as confirmed by the parliament’s press-service.

«Amendments were proposed to prevent the possibility of Latvia’s financial system being used to launder illegally acquired funds. The ban will apply to credit institutions because turnover of shell companies forms a considerable portion of banks’ serviced accounts,» as noted by Finance Ministry.

The ban will also apply to payment processing institutions, electronic money institutions, deposit broker associations and private deposit portfolio management companies.

In accordance with the law, shell companies are ones that cannot prove their economic activities and are registered in countries that do not require submission of financial accounts. Shell companies have one other characteristic – they do not have an actual location where they are supposed to perform their business activities, the Saeima reports.

Full article here

GROWTH: Supreme Court of Justice views Kristovskis’ claim against Ventspils City Council

On 25 April, the Administrative Cases Department of the Supreme Court of Justice will be viewing two claims submitted by Ventspils City Council deputy Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis against the city council. «The fact that the case will be viewed verbally and that the defendants include Ventspils City Council, EPRDM and Association of Local Governments is considered unique and unprecedented in Latvia’s court practice,» says Kristovskis.

As it is known, Kristovskis has turned with a claim to court because he believes the management of Ventspils municipality refused to provide him with requested documents that govern the city council’s work in spite of multiple repeated requests. The city council’s management also refused to publish this information on the official ventspils.lv portal. Because the Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry refused to evaluate Ventspils City Council’s illegal activities and put an end, this matter has been delegated to the court.

«By accepting the claim and added evidence, the Supreme Court confirmed that it admits there is a lack of an effective rights-protection mechanism for situation when the rights and duties of minority deputies are limited by the majority deputies and management of municipal administrations, as it happens in Ventspils City Council’s case,» says Kristovskis.

Full article here

BUSINESS: Danske Bank to gradually cease servicing Baltic clients

In Baltic States, Danske Bank plans to focus solely on providing support to subsidiaries of Nordic clients, as well as global corporations with a considerable business portion in Nordic countries. Leaving private persons and local businesses servicing sector will be performed in a gradual manner, as reported by acting manager of Danske Bank’s Communication Office in Latvia Zane Strade.

She notes: «This means Danske Bank will cease opening accounts for new local clients. Existing clients will continue receiving services in accordance with signed contracts. All existing loan and deposit contracts will remain in force. Everyday services will continue being provided until further notice.»

At the same time, she adds that the bank will not expand cooperation with those clients. New loans will not be provided and no new service contracts will be provided to them.

Full article here

JUSTICE: FCMC chief says ABLV Bank’s closure was not the goal of FinCEN report

The report published in February by US Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network about ABLV Bank was not prepared with the goal in mind to close the bank, said chief of Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission Pēters Putniņš at a public hearing organized by European Parliament’s TAX3 committee in Brussels.

«We do not know why the US government decided to unveil another report […], but it was not compiled with ABLV Bank’s closure in mind. […] FinCEN had assessed relevant risks for the bank’s survival outside the US dollar zone. There was no intention to kill off this bank with any documents – it was the market’s reaction that did it,» said Putniņš, adding that when the report was being released ABLV Bank was working on preventing different uncovered problems.

Full article here

OPINION: Ex-minister says Latvia’s biggest problem is the older generation of politicians

Older generation of politicians is Latvia’s largest problem. Some of those people are due for retirement. This is why the main objective for ‘Kustība Par!’ is involving a new generation of young and perspective politicians, says the party’s leader Daniels Pavļuts.

This year’s Saeima elections, according to him, will not have the usual choice between the left and the right or between conservatives or liberals. He says the «choice will be for a better tomorrow made yesterday».

«We are a modern, young and well-educated people that think about the future. Many of us have children and we think about their and Latvia’s future. People do not think in two or four-year election cycles. We look towards the far future,» Pavļuts says.

According to him, there isn’t a single truly right-wing party in Latvia. «Latvia has had more of an unclear centrist policy over the years. Unity has a very unclear place in the political spectrum. Lately Unity has been experiencing internal stress associated with a desire to attract nationally-thinking voters. This is why the party has performed leans towards national conservatism. I no longer see anything right-wing or centrist left in this party.»

Full article here

FIGHT: «Oligarch talks» publication law put on hold; will fabricated «risks» impact UGF?

On Tuesday, 25 April, Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee decided against putting up for a vote the legislative draft for the digitization and publication of the declassified portion of materials from the so-called oligarch talks criminal case.

At the same time, the committee decided to ask Justice Ministry’s work group to evaluate and offer solutions that would permit society, including mass media representatives to access materials from the criminal case.

With that, the majority of members of the Legal Affairs Committee decided not to vote on the legislative draft that would have allowed journalists to access materials of the scandalous criminal case and publish them for all to read. The legislative draft was submitted for discussion in the parliament was submitted by Unity’s Saeima faction and Latvian Association of Regions.

Unity faction deputy Andrejs Judins proposed voting on the legislative draft today. The majority of members of the committee, however, did not support his proposal.

Judins wrote on his Twitter account: «The real goal is not ‘slowing it’ – the goal is preventing amendments from being adopted».

He added: «[Gundars] Daudze was visibly nervous during the meeting. He was worried publication of oligarch talks could affect the election process. He is well aware that if truth comes to light, UGF’s image would suffer.»

Full article here

FUTURE: Norway interested in developing cooperation with Latvia in tourism industry

«Latvia welcomes successful regional and economic cooperation with Norway. Our countries have common values and goals – developing Baltic and Nordic countries as a wealthy and secure European region,» said Latvia’s Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens during his meeting with Norwegian State Secretary for Trade, Industry and Fisheries Roy Angelvik.

During this meeting, Latvia’s minister and his Norwegian colleague discussed mutual economic cooperation matters, as well as opportunities for expanded cooperation, as BNN was informed by Economy Ministry.

Angelvik and Ašeradens both said that their countries find it important to develop cooperation in start-up and innovations industry. At the same time, the two sides mentioned they are interested in developing cooperation in education by creating study programmes and student exchange events.

Ašeradens also said he is satisfied with the level of cooperation between Latvia and Norway on a regional level, adding that it is necessary to aim towards tighter regional integration of Baltic and Nordic States, especially in the field of energy, innovation, construction and green technologies. At the same time, the minister voiced satisfaction for Norway’s contribution to increasing security in the Baltic Region, the ministry notes.

Full article here


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Week in Lithuania: PM Skvernelis undergoes surgery, Nausėda meets Merkel, rebukes Latvia

Last week, President Gitanas Nausėda rejected the government’s candidate for EU judge, hints of big changes at Šiaulių Bankas ahead

Independent Deputies Faction joins forces with Honour to Serve Riga

Riga City Council’s Independent Deputies Faction has signed a cooperation agreement with Honour to Serve Riga political party, pledging support for the party’s mayoral candidate Oļegs Burovs, as LETA was told by the faction’s leader Valērijs Petrovs on Monday, 18 August.

Saeima’s MPC investigation committee requests information on every issued license

The parliamentary committee formed to investigate the mandatory procurement component has requested access to information regarding every issued MPC license and decision made by officials in regards to this field, says the committee’s representative Ilze Vanaga.

Latvian athlete receives two-year disqualification

Former Latvian long jumper Ineta Radeviča has received a two-year disqualification, as confirmed by International Association of Athletics Federation’s Athletics Integrity Unit.

Minister: state budget funds will not be used to compensate PNB Bank’s clients

The Deposit Guarantee Fund is sufficient to pay compensations to affected PNB Bank clients. This means not a cent from Latvia’s state budget will be used, said Latvia’s Finance Minister Jānis Reirs in a telephone conversation with public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 16 August.

Estonia to invest 22 million in construction of a new TV house

Estonian government has set aside EUR 22 million for the construction of a new public television building, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Another one falls – Latvian FCMC halts PNB Bank’s operations

Operations of PNB Bank [formerly Norvik Banka] have been halted in Latvia, as confirmed by Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Unemployment index in Latvia drops – rate down to 6.4% in Q2

In Q2 2019 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 6.4 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points, and compared to the rate recorded a year ago, it dropped by 1.3 percentage points.

64.7% of Latvia’s population reportedly employed in Q2 2019

905.6 thousand people or 64.7 % of Latvia’s population aged 15–74 were employed in Q2 2019.

Lithuanian Conservatives’ tensions: can the party split?

The Conservative Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) have risen to unseen heights lately – although in the opposition now, in 2016 parliamentary election the party racked up a record support in its 30 years’ history.

Minister: Latvia’s social budget surplus has reached one billion

The surplus of the state social budget has come close of the pre-crisis level – EUR 1 billion, said Latvian Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama on 15 August.

Riga City Council permitted to elect mayor after two-month deadline

In spite of the fact that 21 August will mark two months of Riga City Council working without a mayor, a condition that permits Latvia’s Saeima to dismiss the entire city council, deputies of the municipality will nonetheless have the right to elect a mayor after the deadline, says Environment Protection Minister Juris Pūce’s advisor for legal affairs Valdis Verners.

Lithuanian president unhappy with Latvia’s decision to purchase energy from Belarus

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has voiced sadness over Latvia’s decision to purchase electrical energy produced at Astravets nuclear power plant in Belarus not far from the Lithuanian border. He admits, however, that this decision was not unexpected for him.

State Real Estate claims ReRe Būve 1 may be trying to circumvent the law

Construction company Rere Būve 1 publicly voices desire to continue implementing the construction contract. However, the construction company’s submitted work schedule for reconstruction of New Riga Theatre has everything changed – volume of work, terms and budget, Latvian State Real Estate reports.

Lithuanian mountaineer dies climbing French Alps

Lithuanian 38-year-old mountaineer Vytautas Mažeika died in a 50 m fall in the French Alps, Lithuanian public media LRT reports with reference to 15min.lt.

Estonia decides to reform pension system; increase not promised

Helir-Valdor Seeder, leader of Estonian coalition party Isamaa, has confirmed that the government has agreed on his proposed pension reform, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Ruling party in Lithuania promises national agreement for education affairs

While more and more small town schools close down in Lithuania, the leader of the ruling party promises a «national agreement» for education affairs, as reported by Lithuanian public media LRT.

Viesturs Zeps’ has yet to convince NCP and Unity to support him as mayoral candidate

Mayoral candidate in Riga Viesturs Zeps still has not convinced New Conservative Party and Unity to support him, according to what he said in an interview to public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta panorama on Thursday, 15 August.

Audit: planning problems impede growth of Latvia’s defensive capabilities

Problems with planning are the main reason why Latvia’s defensive capabilities are developing slowly, as concluded by State Audit.

Minister: increase of doctors’ wages is a priority over all other promises

First it is necessary to increase doctors’ wages. Then it will be possible to tackle all other promises, said Latvian Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele during a meeting of the Saeima’s Social and Employment Matters Committee on Wednesday, 14 August.

Is Latvia becoming more hospitable? Tourist upturn observed

A total of 781.1 thousand visitors stayed at Latvian tourist accommodation establishments in Q2 2019, which is 1.1 % more than in Q2 2018.

Village in Russia to be evacuated following nuclear accident

Russian authorities have announced evacuation of Nenoksa village, as it is the closest to the military area where a nuclear accident recently happened. This may mean the situation there is far more dangerous than initially reported, as reported by New York Times.

Lithuania’s president says he sees no reason to meet with Putin

A meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is unlikely and would be pointless, said Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nausėda in an interview to public media LRT.

Shadow of political dealings over SRS. ZZS people – Knoks, Podiņš, Vaivars

Although the State Revenue Service has never had a truly spotless reputation, there is now a much bigger and darker shadow hovering over the service’s director general Ieva Jaunzeme. Serious concerns have been voiced in regards to possible employment of «chosen people» in important posts, which allows them to either halt or push criminal processes forward in order to make life difficult for their political opponents, pretending to fight the good fight while, in reality, realizing some «political hit».

Prime Minister: 2020 budget will be Latvia’s largest one yet

The next year’s budget will be the largest in the history of Latvia and will exceed EUR 10 billion, said Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Wednesday, 14 August.

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