A new series of reports released on September 20 reveal the vast scale of suspected illicit flows of cash via Latvian banks between 2006 and 2017, a Latvian centre for investigative journalism, Re:Baltica, maintains. According to the reports, a “large trove” of documents has been leaked, revealing global transactions, including those flowing through Latvia, that US based banks flagged as suspicious to their supervisor.
The documents reportedly expose that the US banks eyed with suspicion transactions totalling at least $7.6bn wired through Latvian banks between 2006 and 2017. Allegedly, some of the most eye-catching revelations involve Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and show his numerous business links to Latvia.
Other high-profile names including Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash, former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich and former lobbyist and convicted fraudster Paul Manafort also make appearances in the investigation.
"The leaked documents clearly demonstrate that the US based banks and FinCEN considered Latvia a high-risk jurisdiction, and regularly reported on suspicious transactions which flowed through banks such as BlueOrange Bank (previously Baltikums Bank), Expobank (previously LTB Bank and Latvian Trade Bank), Industra Bank (previously Meridian Trade Bank and SMP Bank), Regional Investment Bank, Rietumu Bank, Rigensis Bank, as well as banks in liquidation – ABLV Bank (previously known as Aizkraukles banka), PNB bank (previously Norvik Banka and Lateko Banka), and Trasta Komercbanka,” investigative journalism centre Re:Baltica said.
As previously reported, Latvia has in recent years upped its anti-money laundering efforts after years of denying there was even a serious problem as dirty cash, mainly from the east, sustained its profitable boutique banks.