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Wednesday 20.03.2019 | Name days: Made, Irbe
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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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Latvian minister: we should work with convicts, not isolate them

People who are currently isolated from society in prisons should not be kept isolated – they should be allowed to re-socialize, said Latvian Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns at a press-conference about the study on former inmates’ abilities to re-socialize.

Brexit extension: Theresa May won’t as for more than 50 days

British Prime Minister Theresa May wants only a short Brexit term extension that will not exceed 50 days, as reported by The Guardian.

Business Index: 56.7% of businessmen in Latvia believe government hurt businesses

When asked about the influence Latvia’s government has on the country’s entrepreneurship, 56.6% of interviewed businessmen said the government interferes with the sector, whereas only 7.3% said the government provides assistance, according to results of Turība University’s Business Index.

Moody’s affirms Latvian energy company Latvenergo’s credit rating at Baa2

International credit rating agency Moody’s has affirmed the credit rating of Latvian energy company AS Latvenergo at Baa2 with a stable future outlook, as stated in Latvienergo’s announcement.

Teachers’ protest in Riga gathers 2,000 people

The protest act organized by Latvian teachers outside the Saeima building in Riga gathered approximately 2,000 people, according to Latvian public media.

Latvian Competition Council looks into scandalous «nano-water» case

The Competition Council in Latvia has acquired information regarding the so-called nano-water case, suggesting that municipal public transport company SIA Rīgas satiksme had taken part in a cartel agreement, coordinating an offer of one of the contenders and informing the company in advance of the happenings to ensure their victory in the procurement.

Latvian minister: EU cannot move away from multi-sided trade rules

The European Union cannot afford moving away from multi-sided trade rules, said Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, participating in a meeting of the General Affairs Council in Brussels.

Latvian Prime Minister says MPC abolishment on 31 March may cost EUR 1 billion

If the mandatory procurement component system is abolished on 31 March, this could cost the country around EUR 1 billion, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma.

Latvian politicians fail to find a way to increase wages for teachers yet again

A day before teachers’ planned protest act Latvian politicians failed to convince Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees about the options to find money to increase wages of teachers this year. With that, teachers intend to go through with the plan to hold a protest on Wednesday, 20 March.

Latvia’s 2020 budget draft sent to the parliament for first viewing

On Tuesday, 19 March, Latvian Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee conceptually supported this year’s state budget project and decided to submit it to the parliament for its first viewing. The committee decided to submit 14 additional legislative drafts associated with the budget, as reported by Saeima’s press-service.

Minister: Latvia needs representatives in EP the country can be proud of

«Latvian voters should keep in mind that Latvia is represented by only eight members in the European Parliament. It is vital to find candidates we would not be ashamed of. There is no other recipe – if you want to affect the composition of the European Parliament, it is important to remember that results from votes. Nothing will change if we stand on the sidelines,» said Latvian Culture Minister and MEP candidate Dace Melbārde in an interview to BNN.

Rigvir medication distribution in Latvia halted temporarily

Bio-technology company Rigvir has decided to halt distribution of Rigvir medication in Latvia temporarily, as confirmed by Rigvir Group CEO Kristīne Jučkoviča.

Finance commission’s head says Latvia has too many banks for its small market

It is clear there are too many banks for Latvia’s domestic market, said chairman of Finance and Capital Market Commission Pēteris Putniņš in an interview to LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Tuesday, 19 March.

Latvian residents become more optimistic about government’s work

In one month’s time Latvian residents’ opinion of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s government has improved, according to data from SKDS study.

Dutch authorities arrest Utrecht tram shooter

According to Dutch authorities, the man who opened fire in a tram in Utrecht, killing three and injuring five, has been arrested.

Parliament: Latvian universities should be among 500 best in the world

Latvia’s leading universities have a clear vision for the future. It is topical for continued development of the country’s education and science sector.

Latvian minister to request police investigation in public transport company

Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry has finished its analysis of the audit performed in municipal public transport company SIA Rīgas satiksme. Soon the ministry plans to ask law enforcement institutions to provide their opinion on whether or not there had been fictive employment or other violations committed by the company, as reported by TV3 news.

Latvian prime minister urges sorting the system, not raising taxes

A number of sectors require reforms to avoid raising taxes to increase revenue, said Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš during a meeting of Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, 18 March.

Stoltenberg calls NATO the most successful alliance in world history

NATO is the strongest, most successful alliance in history, wrote NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in an article dedicated to the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Heavy rainfall in Indonesia causes floods and landslides; death toll reaches 77

Approximately 77 people have been killed in mountain villages hit by floods and landslides caused by intense rainfall in Indonesia’s Papua Province, according to the latest information reported by Indonesian authorities.

Number of job vacancies in Latvia up 33.4% in 2018

In 2018, there were 22.7 thousand job vacancies in Latvia, which is 5.7 thousand vacancies or 33.4 % more than in 2017.

Swedbank: more than 1,400 Latvian families purchased property in regions last year

In 2018, Swedbank had issued more than 1,400 loans for property purchases within 50 km radius around Riga. This is an average of six loans issued every work day, as reported by Swedbank representative Jānis Krops.

Minister: Latvia may require radical image change because of finance sector’s problems

Considering the problems in the country’s finance sector, it will be necessary to work on radically changing the country’s image, says Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

Riga Mayor’s wife suspected of dubious employed in public water supply company

For eight years Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs’ office manager Iveta Strautiņa-Ušakova worked as a consultant for municipal water supply company Rīgas Ūdens, as reported by LTV investigative journalism programme De Facto.

Latvian Centre Party to take part in European Parliament elections

A list of candidates compiled by Centre Party from Latvia has been submitted for European Parliament elections. The list is composed of fifteen candidates. This makes it the fifth list of candidates to be submitted for EP elections in Latvia so far, as reported by Central Election Commission.