Latviski English По-русски
Wednesday 16.10.2019 | Name days: Daiga, Dinija

NP: Bank of Latvia has partially isolated Rimšēvičs from information

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUAfter the ruling of the European Union’s Court of Justice, which allowed Bank of Latvia governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs to return to work, the bank’s council decided to hide from him information related to the case, TV3 programme Nekā Personīga.

The bank’s council decided to isolate the governor from information related to prosecutor’s questions and the answers provided. Additionally, he has no access to information about three banks – ABLV, Trasta komercbanka and PNB. This is because all of them are associated with Rimšēvičs’ criminal processes, as reported by the programme.

The Bank of Latvia has created internal information exchange procedures to provide guidelines for employees in situations when Rimšēvičs could attempt to influence witnesses. Prosecutor Viorika Jirgena does not believe he could attempt to hide evidence or influence witnesses in the central bank.

The governor of the Bank of Latvia is also automatically a member of the council of the European Central Bank. ECB is proud that it defends its independence. European Commission and the board of ECB are interested in discussing the prohibition for Rimšēvičs to work in the bank with Latvian ministers and the prime minister. There are some ECB council members who are involved in criminal cases in their countries. However, none of them have been applied with any restrictions to perform their duties. What is particularly interesting is that the governor of Slovenia’s central bank has stepped down when a criminal case was launched against him, the programme reports.

The court agreed in Rimšēvičs’ case that the prohibition for him to perform his duties is equal to his dismissal. While Latvia’s laws permit this, if the guilt of the governor is proved, dismissal of members of the European Central Bank provides wider opportunities – even if there are justified suspicions of serious crimes.

However, Latvia has not provided proof of Rimšēvičs’ guilt.

Latvia’s Justice Ministry denies mistakes being made in the investigation. The aforementioned ruling has far-reaching consequences for Rimšēvičs’ case. If a member state establishes a prohibition of an official of an EU institution to take post, law enforcement institutions can be asked to provide evidence to the European Union Court of Justice.

«I believe Latvia has done everything to defend its position. Only the prosecutor responsible for the criminal process can say if there are any risks of evidence ending up in the hands of the other party,» said the ministry’s deputy state secretary Irēna Kucina. «Latvia’s position in this case is approved on the government level. Once things have been clarified, this subject is coordinated on a level up to the Cabinet of Ministers. Responsible institutions were directly involved in formation of the country’s institution. This is not just Justice Ministry but Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau and the Prosecutor General’s Office. With that, the prosecutor and investigator responsible for the case, as well as Finance Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry, all participated in formation of the country’s position.»

«Our position is rather strict – we cannot disclose evidence and thereby undermine the investigation. Latvia’s court plays the most important role,» the now ex-Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis comments.

The court process of the European court was held in September. At the time, interrogations had only commenced in Rimšēvičs’ criminal case in Latvia. Before then, Rimšēvičs used his right to not testify. European court requested Latvia to provide evidence within eight days to back Rimšēvičs’ guilt.

«If a discussion appeared in regards to documents, I asked a question if those documents would be sent to someone else. The court’s answer was – yes. This means the principle of confidentiality would not be applied there,» said Jirgena.

The fact that evidence would be provided to the other side is proved by minutes of the court hearing. Latvia submitted 44 documents. Among those documents was the correspondence between KNAB, Bank of Latvia, ECB and German institutions about Rimšēvič and decisions related to Trasta komercbanka. Additionally, documents associated with investigative procedures were submitted, including KNAB’s decision to make Rimšēvičs a suspect. This document mentions audio recordings of telephone conversations, testimonies, confiscated items and reports, none of which were provided to the European court by Latvia.

In December, a detailed opinion was published by the attorney general of the European Union Court of Justice. In it, she said Latvia has suspended a member of the council of ECB and has refused to provide evidence of this guilt even though all topics associated with ECB are in the competence of the European Union Court of Justice. Because Rimšēvičs has begun testifying, Latvia believes there is a risk of undermining the criminal case. This is why measures have been taken to prevent the case from falling apart.

«The prosecutor proposed telling European Court of Justice that she is prepared to provide all materials of the case, but only if she receives guarantees from the court that these documents will not be provided to the other side,» says Kucina.

At the time, the criminal process consisted of 23 volumes. Latvia sent two letters to the European court, offering to submit documents.

«As the official responsible for the case, I was a hostage of the situation. On one hand, I would like to convince European Court of Justice that we do have evidence. On the other hand, I am bound by law to keep documents and evidence a secret in the interest of the investigation. As long as he doesn’t know what I have,» says prosecutor Jirgena. «I decided in January – we have enough, but it was too late. I could have put my investigator’s ambitions to rest in September. At the time the situation was not as sharp as it turned out in January.»

European Court of Justice did not provide an answer to Latvia’s proposal, because the verbal portion of the court process had concluded by then. What is particularly surprising in the ruling is that the European Court of Justice did not ask Latvia to act. Instead the court simply overturned one of the security measures imposed against Rimšēvičs, as reported by Nekā Personīga.

Rimšēvics’ lawyer Mārtiņš Kveps reminds that European Court of Justice had asked Latvia to amend Rimšēvičs’ security measure as early as summer 2018. This was done so that he would be able to authorize his deputy to work in the council of the European Central Bank. Latvia’s compliance with this request was slow, he says. Other involved in the process allows that Latvia’s refusal to provide evidence could be interpreted as disrespect of their court system, says Nekā Personīga.

Currently there is nothing preventing law enforcement institutions from imposing the same security measure against Rimšēvičs. But in this case they would have to keep in mind that confidentiality of investigations does not apply to the dismissal of ECB officials, because confidentiality is not even mentioned in the court ruling, comments Nekā Personīga.

Rimšēvičs’ term ends at the end of this year. Rimšēvičs has not had access to official secrets since summer 2018. Ever since then, this has been a subject for Saeima’s vote on his dismissal.

«The governor of the Bank of Latvia does not require access to official secrets to perform his duties and stay in his posts in Latvia and Eurozone,» comments Bank of Latvia press-secretary Jānis Silakalns.

Leave a reply

Probing infections in Latvia, salmonella found in meat from Poland

As infection outbreaks in Latvia are under investigation, laboratory tests showed salmonella bacteria in Polish-origin poultry samples taken from SIA Gaļsaimnieks.

Germany to allow Huawei equipment on 5G networks

The Chinese tech giant Huawei will not be banned from the 5G mobile networks in Germany as Berlin stated it wants to create «a level playing field» for vendors.

OECD: Bribery prevention results in Latvia disproportionate to cross-border risks

Latvia’s results in fighting bribery are still disproportionate with the risks of cross-border bribery and money laundering the country is subjected to, says the Working Group on Bribery of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In pictures: Ukrainian President Zelenskiy in Latvia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian first lady made an official visit to Latvia on Wednesday, October 16.

airBaltic not planning to cancel flights with Airbus A220

airBaltic does not plan to reduce its flights with the Airbus A220-300 plane, after Swiss International Air Lines decided to do this being concerned over the aircraft’s engine problems, according to a statement of the Latvian airline on social media.

PM Kariņš recommends spending confiscated EUR 29 mln as single investment

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has recommended the 29 million euros confiscated by the Riga Regional Court for being criminally-acquired to be spent on a one-off investment, according to an interview to LNT programme 900 sekundes.

Latvian security service develops terrorism financing prevention strategy

The Latvian State Security Service (VDD) has prepared its Strategy for the Prevention of Terrorism Financing 2019-2021 with its goal being improvements of the system of preventing such financing, developing Latvia’s abilities to fight such illegal attempts and to improve the country’s reputation in foreign financial markets.

Estonian President sends invitation to Russian President

Estonian head of state Kersti Kaljulaid has invited her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to visit the Baltic country during a gathering of Finno-Ugric peoples in 2020.

Riga transport company needs additional 2.9 million euros

Rīgas satiksme, the transport company of the Latvian capital, will request from the municipal budget an additional allocation of 2.9 million euros, said Rīgas satiksme’s council chairman in an interview with Latvijas radio.

Government decides: Latvia will have 39 municipalities

The Latvian government has backed the draft Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Places that sets forth cutting the number of municipalities in Latvia from 119 to 39.

Rail Baltica: In rebuilding of Riga Central Station deadlines and quality are key

In Rail Baltica, the new railway project, the rebuilding of the Riga Central Station is planned, where meeting deadlines and quality are key, said the head of Eiropas dzelzceļa līnijas, the company responsible for the project in Latvia, commenting on how the project could be affected by involved builders ReRe grupa being under the scrutiny of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau and the Competition Council.

Deal or extension? Last day of Brexit talks on before decisive EU summit

The Brexit delegations from London and Brussels are on Wednesday, October 16, spending their last day of talks before a key European Union summit intended either to discuss a potential deal or to decide on an extension of the Brexit process.

Exclusive | Latvian MP: Top justice figures, Bičkovičs and Kalnmeiers, working like this in private sector, would be sacked long ago

The Moneyval report has told us not only that Latvia is unable to deal with financial crimes, but also that long court cases are under scrutiny. It is about the scale of money laundering – branding us a major power of money laundering. The expert committee also has questions: where are the guilty ones and where are the sentencing rulings? «The same Lembergs’ case; believe me, Moneyval is observing carefully, how it’s going forward,» MP Gatis Eglītis (NCP), the head of the Financial Sector Supervision Committee of Saeima Budget and Finance (Taxation), said in an interview with the BNN.

Latvian medical workers to hold unprecedented protests against funding cuts

Latvian Trade Union of Health and Social Care Workers has decided to hold protests it calls unprecedented against state budget plans that would result in reduced funding for health care, according to the LVSADA Council.

History repeating: Lemberg’s-linked medium recalls false news about Meroni

Once again, a medium linked to the criminally-accused Latvian politician Aivars Lembergs has been forced to admit its lies and to recall its unfounded claims directed at lawyer Rudolf Meroni. This time the recall has been published by Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze daily.

Unity: Riga City Council tries to retain structure of despite liquidation

In the Riga City Council, opposition Unity faction fears a near-million increase of the municipality’s Public Relations Division could be coming in city budget effectively to transfer the structure of, the foundation up for liquidation.

Latvian minister: System wants its people as Prosecutor General, top court chairman

«There is information that the system prepares its heirs and wishes to appoint people close to it,» discussing reforms in the Latvian justice system, including the changing of the chairman of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General, has said the Latvian Justice Minister speaking to Latvijas Televīzija programme Rīta Panorāma.

Latvian coalition reaches deal to support changed administrative reform

Latvian government parties have agreed to support the country’s major administrative and territorial reform expanding the initial plan of cutting the number of municipalities in Latvia from 119 to 36.

Spain’s conviction of Catalan separatists sparks mass protests and clashes

The imprisonment of Catalan politicians and activists has sparked mass protests in the Spanish autonomous region leading to violent clashes with police and disruption of civil aviation. A total of 108 flights were cancelled on Monday

U.S. imposes sanctions on Turkey over incursion in Syria

U.S. President Donald Trump has stated he has issued an executive order to impose sanctions on Turkey’s officials and customs tariffs on steel imports from the country, which is continuing its military attack on Syria.

On safe side: Estonian tech minister changes Huawei to iPhone

Estonian Foreign Trade and Information Technology Minister, Kert Kingo, has changed her Huawei smartphone after criticism about alleged security issues with the device of the Chinese brand.

Ukraine's Zelensky to visit Latvia this week

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will make a state visit to Latvia this week, the Chancery of the Latvian President informed.

Orbán’s party defeated in Budapest election

In the Hungarian municipal election, a rare win has been reached by opposition parties as they joined forces and overcame Budapest mayor István Tarlós from the ruling Fidesz party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Latvian city trio could retain special status after reform, minister says

As the massive Latvian administrative reform is to be discussed in government, its advocate, the Regional Development Minister, has suggested Liepāja, Rēzekne and Daugavpils could retain their special status thus increasing the number of prospective municipalities to 39.

Latvian budget to receive 20 million euros ruled to be criminally acquired

The Riga Regional Court has ruled that arrested 29 million euros have been acquired illegally and that they have to be transferred from a bank to the Latvian state budget, announced the Latvian Office of the Prosecutor General.