Latvia’s central bank governor Ilmars Rimsevics has been detained by the country’s anti-corruption agency.
In a statement to the Reuters news agency, Latvia’s Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis did not say why Rimsevics, a member of the European Central Bank’s Governing Council, had been detained or what he was being investigated for.
However, he attempted to reassure people that the economy was stable.
“There are no indications that would suggest threats to the financial system of Latvia,” Kucinskis said in an emailed statement.
As reported by Reuters, Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola said Rimsevics should step aside for the time being to protect the Baltic country’s reputation.
“Given that the governor of the central bank is a symbol for every country, I think that it would be sensible at this moment that Mr. Rimsevics, at least during the investigation, steps down,” Reizniece-Ozola told a news conference.”
“Under the current circumstances… every day that Mr. Rimsevics remains in the post of governor of the central bank, the situation [for the reputation of Latvia’s financial system] substantially worsens,” she said.
According to Rimsevics’ lawyer, however, the detention was unlawful. “A complaint is being prepared at the moment,” the lawyer, Saulvedis Varpins, told news agency LETA without elaborating.
In a separate report, Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, Rimsevics has headed the central bank since 2001 and has been a member of the European Central Bank’s governing council since Latvia joined the eurozone in 2014.
According to the BBC, the Bank of Latvia stressed it has “zero tolerance policy in respect of corruption and other illicit activities”.
It also said the bank’s operations were unaffected by the investigation, and that it would open on February 19 as usual.