Latvia infringed central-bank independence by barring the governor of the country’s central bank from his post amid a probe into bribery accusations that he denies. This is according to the European Central Bank and the governor himself, Ilmars Rimsevics.
In fact, the Frankfurt-based ECB has appealed at the EU’s highest court against restrictions that stop Rimsevics from exercising his office. The EU Court of Justice released details on the cases on May 7.
As reported by Bloomberg, the ECB claims that Latvian authorities broke the law by imposing stringent bail terms on Rimsevics’ work before a ruling on the case by an independent court. The ECB also says the authorities haven’t provided all the information on the case.
The case started in February. The Baltic country’s banking sector was rocked after the US Treasury proposed banning the country’s third-biggest lender, ABLV. Days later, Rimsevics was detained by the anti-corruption bureau for 48 hours. He was accused of being part of a group that solicited and received bribes of at least €100,000. The bank and Rimsevics deny all accusations of wrongdoing.
In related news, ABLV announced on May 7 it had appealed at the Luxembourg-based EU court against the ECB’s decision to declare it was on the verge of failure.
“ABLV and its Luxembourg subsidiary were neither illiquid nor was their illiquidity imminent in the foreseeable future,” the bank said in a statement announcing the filing of the case. They were “in an extraordinarily strong financial position not only as regards their capitalization and profitability but also and particularly as regards their liquidity.”
According to the Reuters news agency, this is the latest challenge to the European banks supervisor over its handling of the affair, over which it has been widely criticised.
The ECB’s move to stop payments at the bank and subsequent declaration that it was failing sealed ABLV’s fate. Okko Hendrik Behrends, the Latvian bank’s lawyer, said the ECB should not have triggered ABLV’s closure because it was financially healthy and could have survived.