The governor of the Central Bank of Latvia, Ilmars Rimsevics, has been suspended from office, days after being arrested by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (KNAB) on suspicion of accepting a bribe of 100,000 euros, according to Latvian media.
KNAB Director Jekabs Straume said on Monday that judicial proceedings had begun against a senior official and a private person, but gave no names.
Mr Rimsevics, who has been head of the Central Bank of Latvia since 2001, was arrested by the KNAB this weekend and searches carried out of his residence and office.
His lawyer asked the court to release his client on bail. The sum, set at 100,000 euros, was paid by a friend of the Mr Rimsevics’s.
Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis said on Monday after a special meeting of his cabinet that Mr Rimsevics should suspend his duties when he is released on bail.
Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola also said on Sunday that the governor should step down “during the investigation by the KNAB”.
The chairman of the parliamentary committee on national security, Inese Libina-Egnere, said on Monday that he should resign, otherwise the parliament would study other ways to remove him from his post.
In other news that has rocked the Latvian banking industry recently, the European Central Bank has announced that it has imposed a freeze on payments to the third largest commercial bank in Latvia, ABLV Bank, which has been charged with money laundering by the US government.
The Treasury Department accuses ABLV Bank of money laundering and involvement in illegal weapons development programs in North Korea.
Since then, Latvia’s third largest bank has been prevented from accessing the financial system, threatening its survival in the short term despite its comfortable financial situation.
KNAB chief Jekabs Straume said the US accusations “are not in any way related to the ongoing criminal proceedings” against Ilmars Rimsevics.