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Tuesday 18.12.2018 | Name days: Klinta, Kristaps, Kristofers, Krists
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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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UGF and Harmony once again vote to keep Truksnis the Mayor of Jurmala

With votes from the Union of Greens and Farmers and Harmony, Jurmala Mayor Gatis Truksnis has once again managed to keep his post.

Corruption watchdog detains ex-mayor of Daugavpils under suspicion of bribery

Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has detained former mayor of Daugavpils Rihards Eigims, according to information from LETA.

Orkla Confectionery & Snacks Latvija invests EUR 53,000 in biscuit production plant

Chocolate and confectioneries production company Orkla Confectionery & Snacks Latvija has invested more than EUR 53,000 in modernization of a biscuit and waffle production plant located on Artilērijas Street. Additional funding has allowed the company to install a powder sugar dosing pot.

60% of Estonians ready to defend their country, survey estimates

A survey commissioned by the Estonian Defence Ministry has found that 60% of Estonian respondents would take part in defence related activity in the event of a military attack.

Will Nils Ušakovs stay as Mayor of Riga?

Members of Riga City Council will meet at 15:00 on 18 December to decide on the dismissal of Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs. According to the head of Riga City Council faction of the National Alliance Nauris Puntulis: «Ušakovs should follow Andris Ameriks’ example and step down voluntarily.»

Ex-minister: «good deed champions» buy trains first and think how to use them later

AS Pasažieru vilciens wants to purchase 32 new electric trains for a price of EUR 225,303,262. This amount three times exceeds the amount Estonia paid for its electric trains. «The problem in Latvia’s case is not just with the state overpaying but also with good deed champions wanting to buy trains first and think about their use later. There is no clarity in regards to use of those trains and railway infrastructure’s readiness,» BNN was told by ex-Transport Minister of Latvia Anrijs Matīss.

Over 290 000 Estonians on brink of statistical poverty in 2017

In Estonia, 295,000 people or 22.6% of the population were at risk of poverty in 2017, the Baltic country's official statistics found adding that the proportion of such people grew by 1.6% since 2016.

Chinese President Xi: No one can dictate to China

Xi Jinping, the President of China has warned other countries not to tell what Beijing should do and voiced his conviction that the Communist Party of China leads everything in the country.

Companies fined 33,268 euros for distorting competition in public procurements

Latvia’s Competition Council has discovered illegal coordination of activities between SIA Tomega and SIA BTK.LV on multiple occasions. The council has decided to fine SIA Tomega EUR 33,268 for intentionally distorting competition in public procurement procedures.

Global Refugee Compact approved by UN General Assembly

The U.N. General Assembly has with the exception of the U.S. and Hungary endorsed a non-binding compact, which sets forth granting support for countries where the majority of the world's more than 25 million refugees live.

City Property Committee Olegs Burovs to be nominated for Riga Vice-Mayor’s post

During a board meeting of the Honour to Serve Riga party, members decided to propose the head of Riga City Council’s City Property Committee Olegs Burovs, as confirmed by a member of the political party Mareks Gailītis.

Poland respects EU Court's ruling and reverses controversial judge law

Respecting a ruling of the European Court of Justice, Poland has suspended the controversial law of the lowering of the pension age of its Supreme Court judges.

Latvian parties generally satisfied with New Unity’s offer

Potential partners are generally supportive of New Unity’s offer for division of responsibilities in the government. Nevertheless, parties want to discuss other matters, including National Alliance’s continued management over Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry.

Riga City Council opposition suggests voting for Ušakovs’ dismissal again

On Monday, 17 December, the opposition of Riga City Council submitted a proposal for a meeting to decide on Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs’ dismissal. The request to dismiss Ušakovs was signed by deputies from all opposition parties in Riga City Council.

Inflation in Latvia was higher than average in EU and Eurozone in November

Inflation in Latvia in November was higher than average inflation in European Union and Eurozone, according to data published by Eurostat.

LRB: there are a number of idle plans with a possible goal to acquire EU money and divert attention

«It is not normal for EUR 100 million to be suddenly pumped into the road industry shortly before elections. By doing this, Transport Minister Uldis Augulis has hurt the road construction industry,» said Latvian Road Builders association’s chairman Andris Bērziņš in a conversation with BNN.

VNT: overall situation in the Latvian transit sector is extremely dire

VNT has experienced 5% growth in last 11 months over the same period 2017 only as a result of its the strategic planning and significant improvements implemented over 2018.

Lithuania gives banking license UK technology «unicorn» Revolut

British digital payment firm Revolut, which has been valued at 1.5 billion euros, has been granted a banking licence in Lithuania, providing the firm the chance to work in the European Union regardless of Brexit.

Estonia testing internet voting with election in mind

E-governance-promoting Estonia is this week testing internet voting offering voters to send holiday greetings and to select themselves a present from the country's e-voting system.

De facto: Tukums airport’s owners deny bribing Lithuanian army official

Wing 4 Sky group – the owner of Tukums airport – denies their involvement in an attempt to bribe a Lithuanian army official. The corruption scandal surfaced when Tukums airport was trying to recover its lost reputation and certificate, as reported by LTV programme De facto.

Andris Ameriks steps down as Vice-Mayor of Riga

The vice-Mayor of Riga Andris Ameriks has decided to step down. He announced his decision at a press-briefing on Monday, 17 December.

May: Repeated Brexit referendum would break population's trust

British Prime Minister Theresa May, responding to high profile calls in the UK politics to hold a second referendum over the country's withdrawal from the European Union, has evaluated that it would «break faith with the British people».

Number of passengers carried by airBaltic up 18% this year

Latvian airline airBaltic has carried 3,842,952 or 18% more passengers during the first eleven months of 2018 than in the same period last year to its network spanning Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, CIS and the Middle East.

Government scenario without UGF to be discussed first in Latvia

Under prime minister candidate Krišjāņis Kariņš’s leadership, parties in Latvia could first discuss government formation without the Union of Greens and Farmers, according to unofficial information.

Katowice conference arrives at guidelines for realising emmission curbs

Signatories of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement have reached a compromise set of guidelines for implementing their commitments as the world's governments agreed to take effective steps to reduce their carbon dioxide emmissions.

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