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Ilmars Rimsevics, a member of the European Central Bank’s Governing Council, will face prosecution in Latvia following a bribery investigation involving a small lender that’s been closed over money laundering.
Photographer: Roni Rekomaa/Bloomberg
Rimsevics, the Baltic nation’s central bank governor, was detained for 48 hours in February as part of an investigation by the anti-corruption bureau. The case was transferred last week to prosecutors, who announced their decision on Thursday. Rimsevics denies all wrongdoing and refuses to step down. An ECB spokesman declined to comment.
Latvia’s Prosecutor’s Office said it’s “taken and issued a decision to initiate criminal prosecution against the Latvian central bank president,” according to a statement on its website.
The move marks another blow in what’s already been a torrid few months for the European Union and euro-region country. Its No. 3 bank was shut in February after the Treasury Department accused it of violating North Korea sanctions, while the U.S. says it must do more to cleanse a financial industry that’s thrived on inflows from the former Soviet Union.
Rimsevics’s case has strained relations between Latvia and the ECB, which has challenged some of the restrictions he’s faced in his home country. But he isn’t the first ECB policy maker has run into legal difficulties, with past instances including national governors from Greece and Slovenia.
(Updates with prosecutor statement in third paragraph.)