Latvia's central bank chief released on bail, ECB halts payments to ABLV

Bank of Latvia governor detained amid new corruption probe

"Temporarily, and until further notice, a prohibition of all payments by ABLV bank on its financial liabilities has been imposed, and is now in effect", the ECB said in a statement.It is the first time the ECB has used its power to impose a moratorium since taking on eurozone-wide banking supervision responsibilities in 2014.

At a news conference, Mr Rimsevics said "my retreat would allow a man like Guselnikov to triumph". "I have become the target of some Latvian commercial banks to destroy Latvia's reputation".

Ilmars Rimsevics' arrest after an anti-corruption probe is the latest development in a fresh wave of scandals to hit Latvia's banking sector.

Ilmars Rimsevics, who was detained Saturday and released on bail two days later without charge, was defiant, dismissing the allegations against him as a smear campaign by commercial banks.

"I can't imagine that a governor of the Bank of Latvia detained over such a serious accusation could work", Kucinskis told Latvian television.

Norvik Bank could not immediately be reached for comment.

Investigators have not revealed details of the case, but the Associated Press quoted executives from Latvia's Norvik bank as accusing Mr Rimsevics of seeking bribes; Norvik is controlled by Russian-born British citizen Grigory Guselnikov.

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Rimsevics is also on the highest policymaking council of the European Central Bank, which sets monetary policy for the 19 euro countries.

The confusing rival claims of wrongdoing will deepen worries about the transparency of Latvia's banking sector, which has close financial links to former colonial master Russian Federation.

The biggest banks, subsidiaries of Nordic heavyweights like Swedbank and SEB, focus on domestic lending, but there are a number of small banks that handle mainly overseas client money. The fines followed a US investigation.

Also, ABLV Bank is carrying out stabilisation of deposits in order to extend their maturity.

ABLV managers were meeting European Central Bank supervisors on Tuesday to outline a survival plan.

This comes after the US Treasury said last week that ABLV had "institutionalised money laundering" and recommended that ABLV be cut off from dollar transactions with US banks. Without a credible plan, supervisors could declare the bank failing or likely to fail.

Only solvent institutions may receive emergency liquidity support and should the ECB determine that ABLV cannot meet its financial, liquidity and capital obligations, it could start proceedings that may lead to the bank being wound down.

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