Latvia Pledges Faster Money Laundering Reform As Pressure Builds

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Latvia’s prime minister has promised to accelerate an overhaul of the banking sector as fears grow that money laundering scandals could single the country out as high risk, prompting Swedish lenders to leave and isolating the Baltic state.

In an interview with Reuters, Krisjanis Karins said he would take earlier reforms a step further and change rules on management appointments at the country’s banking regulator, while granting it the power to close banks with “dirty money”.

“We are giving out a signal to those individuals or companies looking for a place to launder money,” said Karins, who took over as prime minister in January. “We are saying we are not open for business.”

Early last year, U.S. authorities accused Latvia’s third biggest bank, ABLV, of money laundering and breaking sanctions on North Korea, prompting its closure and triggering the country’s worst financial crisis in a decade.

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