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Monday 16.07.2018 | Name days: Hermīne, Estere
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BNN summary of the week: prosecutor’s weakness, education in Latvian, fintech centre opens in Latvia

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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: Announcement; Approval; Fight; Complaint; Opinion; Decline and Future.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Bank of Latvia governor prohibited from performing duties in ECB council

The governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs is denied the right to perform duties associated with his post in the council of the European Central Bank, as confirmed by the Bank of Latvia.

The bank’s press secretary Jānis Silakalns reports that the institution has received information from Rimšēvičs’ lawyer that his client is not allowed to perform duties associated with his work in European Central Bank’s council.

«From this it can be concluded that Rimšēvičs will no longer come to work in the Bank of Latvia and will not delegate duties to the next representative of the Bank of Latvia to ECB meetings,» said Silakalns.

He also notes that while Rimšēvičs is unable to perform his duties as governor of the Bank of Latvia, he will not be paid his salary. He will also have no access to the bank’s information systems and documents.

Full article here

APPROVAL: Anti-money Laundering Service’s leader to compete for another term

The current head of Latvia’s Office for Prevention of Laundering of Proceeds Derived from Criminal Activity has decided to participate in the open selection process to stay in his post for a repeated term.

The 61-year-old Burkāns has confirmed that he would like to stay for another four-year term. He will likely submit his application next week.

«I have invested all of my effort in the service. I have not looked at other job opportunities. I needed time to assess the situation surrounding the service,» said Burkāns.

The chief of the service mentioned that the fight against crime will never be over. Still, he wants to keep working in the service to make sure the next officers would receive cases in the best possible condition. «I’m not saying cases do not fit international requirements. It is worth mentioning that requirements change all the time,» said Burkāns.

He mentioned that his service works in a very narrow range, which requires deep knowledge in law, financial affairs and money laundering prevention measures. «There is no institution in Latvia that trains officers in money laundering prevention – this is something we have to learn in time,» adds Burkāns.

Full article here

FIGHT: RB Rail CEO says someone is publicly defaming her; accusations of lobbying Latvia’s interests are baseless

While Lithuania actively expresses dissatisfaction with the work performed by the CEO of RB rail Baiba Rubesa, ‘the accused’ tells BNN that an active defamatory campaign is being realized against her. She says it all started with the news regarding the distrust Lithuanian and Estonian shareholders had voiced against her.

The sky is growing mighty dark over Rail Baltica project. Many are waiting for the sun to shine – the sun being the 21 March meeting, during which Baltic shareholders will decide the future of the railway project.

Meanwhile, there have been a lot of criticisms and baseless accusations voiced in the public space in recent weeks, adding unnecessary emotional outline to the project. This makes it hard to separate truth from lies. According to experts – if Rubesa loses her post, Latvia will lose the chance to put another one of its representatives in this post.

Latvia’s position as a shareholder in RB Rail does not offer much clarity on the matter regarding Rubesa’s possible dismissal. In the vote regarding Rubesa’s dismissal, Andris Linužs, who is the head of European Railway Lines, abstained in the vote. His was only one of three votes in RB Rail – the other two belong to Lietuvos geležinkeliai and Rail Baltic Estonia. The neutral vote from Linužs can hardly be called support for Rubesa – it is more of a cautious observer’s position. When asked about his decision, Rubesa mentioned that «Linužs has not worked long enough in this post».

Full article here

COMPLAINT: Riga City Council violated democratic principles – controversial rules should be cancelled

«Rules approved by Riga City Council violate democratic principles and do not comply with the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia. Because of that, changes are unsupportable. Restrictions do not allow deputies to fully participate in decision-making processes and represent the interests of their voters. Latvia is an independent and democratic country – deputies in a democratic country have the right to ask as many questions as necessary. Only under such conditions it is possible to ensure all decisions are made in accordance with the law,» says Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Kaspars Gerhards.

On 2 March, 2018, the ministry received amendments from Riga City Council that provide for limiting the total number of questions city council members are allowed to ask during meetings to three. Another noteworthy change is the limitation of the length within which city council members are allowed to express their opinions to one minute.

The ministry sent Riga City Council a letter on 6 March, requesting the administration to reconsider the questionable amendments.

Full article here

OPINION: NCP leader views prosecutor general’s weakness as threat to Latvia’s state security

Leader of the New Conservative Party and prime minister candidate Jānis Bordāns views the weakness of prosecutor general Ēriks Kalnmeiers as a threat to Latvia’s state security.

Bordāns claims that Kalnmeiers’ announcements sound more like attempts to compromise the people who have been making it hard for criminals to rob the country, and have been combating corruption all this time. It is possible that someone is working on new provocations and defamatory campaigns against members of NCP that will likely surface prior to 13th Saeima elections, he adds. «I think the less honest workers of state institutions are scared of members of NCP taking over the justice sector in the country after elections,» says the leader of NCP.

The plummeting international reputation Latvia has experienced as a result of possible corruptive management of the country’s financial sector proves that a malignant tumour, created by dirty money, has exploded, says Bordāns. Considering developments of recent days, NCP has come forth with a request to perform immediate measures to replace not only the management of the Bank of Latvia, but Finance and Capital Market Commission as well. The party also proposes performing reforms in relation of internal organization of monitoring of those institutions.

The party believes Latvia has ended up in a situation when the country is represented in the European Central Bank by a person with questionable reputation. There is a person in the management board of the Bank of Latvia who is held suspect of corruptive activities. FCMC, on the other hand, is managed by the same person who represented Aivars Lembergs, who remains accused of serious crimes, in council of Latvian Shipping Company and Ventbunkers.

Full article here

DECLINE: Skycop reports airline worker strikes are becoming a serious problem

Last year, airline workers’ strikes had put at least 400,000 travellers in an inconvenient situation. Experts predict that because of the unstable financial situation of different European airlines, strikes will become an even bigger problem in the future.

Union strikes are already considered an emergency when they happen. Because of that, flight disruptions cannot be compensated. Nevertheless, Skycop is committed to changing existing EU legislation to make sure strikes of airline employees are no longer classified as emergency circumstances.

After the strike of British Airlines employees last year, when tens of thousands of flights were cancelled, it became clear that European airlines were stuck in crisis. This has created a sense of concern for the aviation sector. As a result, more and more airline employees turn to their respective trade unions for compensation, as reported by Skycop.

Full article here

FUTURE: First Baltic fin-tech accelerator opens up

Swedbank headquarters in Riga has become the home for B2B [business to business] accelerator Startup Wise Guys start-up support programme. Nine start-ups from nine corners of the world were picked from 80 contenders, as reported by Swedbank representatives.

As part of Wise Guys Fintech programme, the nine international start-ups will spend the next three months in a dynamic and educational environment, developing their businesses, founding contacts with banking experts from Baltic States and Sweden, as well as other world-class mentors. In addition, participants of the accelerator programme will receive EUR 20,000 to further develop their business.

The bank explains that the programme gathers young businessmen from Latvia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Poland, France, Ukraine, Armenia, India and USA. Ideas from participants of the accelerator programme are aimed at financial solutions, such as payment services using Facebook Messenger, contribute to the development of money saving culture, make currency exchange more efficient for businesses, video identification for clients, etc.

Aside from the accelerator programme, Swedbank has also created additional space to accommodate participants of the programme. In the future, it will be home from all kinds of innovative projects.

Full article here

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Estonia earns 150 000 euros from military evaders annually

Estonian compulsory military service is evaded by about 1 000 young men each year, who have to pay fines that annually exceed the combined total of 150 000 euros.

Chairman: FCMC’s competence should end with termination of licenses if banks are liquidated

In the event of liquidation or insolvency, Finance and Capital Market Commission’s competence should end with revoking affected banks’ license and without the need to appoint an administrator, says FCMC chairman Pēters Putniņš.

Minister: Latvia may terminate MPC system in the next three years

In the next three years or so Latvia could completely terminate the mandatory procurement component system, said Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens in an interview to Rīta Panorāma programme of LTV.

In pictures: French victory in World Cup celebrated by tens of thousands in Paris

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Another case of African swine fever infection recorded for domestic pigs in Latvia

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MEP Artis Pabriks becomes political party «Attīstībai/Par!» prime minister candidate

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Russian-U.S. presidents meet in Helsinki

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Heat of up to +30° C expected in Latvia this week

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Week in Lithuania. Lithuania's Tripartite Council fails to reach agreement

Lithuania's Tripartite Council on Tuesday, July 10, failed to reach agreement on raising the minimum wage. Employers are inclined to back the government's proposal to raise the minimum pay to 420 euros. Meanwhile, trade unions want it increased to 450 euros.

BNN summary of the week: NATO to increase and ABLV Bank loses its license

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Future; Deal; Fight; Decline; Decision; Opinion.

SEB Bank to unite life insurance companies working in Baltic States

SEB Bank will unite life insurance companies working in Baltic States, BNN was told by SEB Bank’s representative Agnese Strazda.

Saeima deputy Askolds Kļaviņš becomes suspect in criminal case

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Minister: E-health system has stabilized, but improvements are still needed

Functionality of the E-health portal has stabilized. Disconnection errors have ceased. Nevertheless, we have to continue improving the system further, said Latvian Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša said in an interview to Rīta panorama programme of LTV.

Six to eight Finance and Capital Market Commission officials may work at ABLV Bank

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Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers receives expanded draft on deposit system

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Latvia will not escape talks on increasing defence spending

It is necessary to develop Latvia’s defensive capabilities. Because of that, Latvia cannot escape talks on increasing defence spending to more than 2% of GDP, said Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis, who is participating in the NATO summit in Brussels.

Russia extends food product embargo until end of next year

On Thursday, 12 July, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to extend the embargo on food product imports from countries of the European Union and other countries until the end of next year.

Heat in Latvia to remain for longer; thunderstorms and heavy rain expected, as well

Next week in Latvia will be appropriately hot for summer, as air temperature is expected to reach +30° C at times. Nevertheless, most of Latvia will experience rain and thunderstorms, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

US President announces «tremendous amount of progress» in defence spending matter

On Thursday, 12 July, US President Donald Trump announced having achieved a great deal of progress in the NATO member states’ defence spending matter during the summit.

Providus: it is impossible for Latvian parties to attract large funding honestly

«If we look at political parties’ ability to attract funding from large companies, for example, conclusions are rather sad – there is no way for parties in Latvia to attract funding in an honest way,» Providus think tank researcher Iveta Kažoka said in an interview to BNN.

Study: Latvian residents rely on knowledge and hard work rather than luck

30% of Latvia’s residents believe company success formula relies on decade-long work and significant profits, as well as employee satisfaction, according to the latest Latvian Barometer study of Baltic International Bank.

Competition Council warned 34 persons for possible cartel agreements this year

In the first half-year of 2018 the Competition Council warned 34 persons about possible cartel agreements in six possible violation episodes. Affected companies work in three sectors – burial, security and driving school services.

European Commission predicts 9% lower wheat harvest for Latvia this year

According to estimates from the European Commission, Latvia’s wheat harvest is likely to be 9% below that of last year, according to information from Agriculture Ministry’s Market and Direct Support Department.

ECB revokes Latvian ABLV Bank’s credit institution license

European Central Bank has decided to revoke Latvian ABLV Bank’s license, as confirmed by Finance and Capital Market Commission.

US President asks allies to increase defence expenditures to 4% of GDP

During NATO summit in Brussels US President Donald Trump told leaders of participating member states that they have to increase their expenditures on defence to 4% of GDP.