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Latvia's VEF Bank and Multibanka found themselves in U.S. "black list"

U.S. Treasury suspects two Latvian banks of money laundering.

Two Latvia-based banks, VEF Bank and Multibanka, have been put on the "black list" by U.S. Department of the Treasury. The Americans believe that the banks might be involved in money laundering including the laundering of illegal funds for Russian criminal organizations. The banks will be banned from operating on U.S. financial market if the allegations are substantiated.

"Multibanka and VEF Bank pose a threat to the international community because they make it easier for dirty money to penetrate the financial system," said Daniel Glazer, an assistant to Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. Information relating to the banks' activities were collected by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of U.S. Department of the Treasury. The Treasury will consider the information and make a decision. The operations of the above banks will be banned in the United States should the banks be deemed "the organizations causing grave concern due to money laundering." So far the FinCEN has recommended that U.S. government pass such a ruling with regard to five foreign banks i.e. Infobank (Belorus), First Merchant Bank (Cyprus), Commercial Bank of Syria (Syria) and two banks based in Myanmar. The sanctions were imposed only against the banks in Myanmar.

U.S. Treasury accuses Multibanka of "using one-day fronts including the Russian ones for committing financial crimes." An official request filed by the Prosecutor's Office of Tatarstan to U.S. Department of Justice is among the documents to be considered by the Treasury. The prosecutors from Tatarstan would like the Americans to help them trace the origins of 355 million of rubles, the funds are said to have been transacted via Multibanka and illegally cashed by an unidentified Russian citizen whose company, apparently a one-day front, was reportedly registered in Delaware and Iowa.

The charges against VEF Bank are less concrete. "VEF Bank offers confidential banking services to its non-Latvian customers and therefore the bank may have been involved in money laundering," says the document released by the Treasury.

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