Source Pravda.Ru

Latvian Banks Accused of Laundering Drug Money

Latvian launderers deny everything
Managers of Latvia’s leading banks declared that they had no connection with the laundering of drug money. In particular, Latvijas banka President Georgy Dragilev said in an interview to Kommersant Baltic that “he heard about Columbia drug cartel in movies only.”

Rietumu banka Press-secretary Sergey Grodnikov says: “Our bank is a serious institution where any possibility of such operations are ruled out. I don’t think that any Latvian banks deliberately used accounts for such purposes. Moreover, people employed in the banking sphere understand perfectly well what is behind such operations. However, I wouldn’t vouch for every client, as it’s impossible to read other people’s minds.”

The other day, the Associated Press informed with reference to the US law enforcement authorities that Latvian banks were involved in laundering money that a Columbian drug dealer earned selling cocaine. According to the agency, drug dealers opened over 250 insurance accounts with an investment status in different off-shore zones, on the Isle of Man, for example. Profits made from drug sales were transferred from the banks in Mexico, Latvia, and Hong Kong to banks in America and Puerto Rico. The scheme was investigated for two years with the participation of investigators from the USA, Columbia, Panama, and Great Britain. In particular, approximately 2 million dollars of a total amount of 80 million dirty dollars were transferred from banks in Mexico and Latvia to an account in the Bank of America. During the investigation, drugs worth 32 million dollars were confiscated.

Press-secretary of Parex bank, Latvia’s largest commercial bank, said in a conversation with a correspondent of Russia’s news agency Rosbalt, that Latvia won a reputation as a country with strict laws controlling the activity of financial institutions. The status was achieved due to the bank legislation, demands of the Bank of Latvia, and the commission of capitals and finance markets. “Parex Bank’s long experience on the world financial markets proves that Latvian banks are known as credit institutions observing the legislation and interests of their clients.” According to the bank’s press secretary, the reasons and motives of information about Latvia’s connection with drug contraband are known only to those who spread this information. RosBalt

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian: http://economics.pravda.ru/economics/2002/7/21/64/4144_Laundering.html

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