The American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia (AmCham) said February 24 it welcomed the “tremendous work” done by the government and law enforcement agencies over the last yeat to keep Latvia off a list of money-laundering problem countries and to win a ratings upgrade at the same time, as previously reported by LSM.
“A stable and secure financial sector strengthens investors’ credibility and demonstrates strong country reputation in the global financial system. We support and will continue to support the work of the government, the Fiancial and Capital Market Commission, the Financial Intelligence Unit and other authorities to fully eradicate money laundering and terrorist financing in Latvia,” AmCham said in a press release.
AmCham added that it “will also continue its ongoing cooperation with the FCMC, the financial sector and other partners to seek solutions that mitigate the negative impact on access to banking services for both existing and potential foreign investors and make our country attractive for high value-added investments.”
AmCham represents more than 150 U.S. and international companies in Latvia. It also styles itself a “Thought leadership hub”.
The rapid reform program initiated by Latvian policymakers came largely as a result of the public naming of ABLV bank as a money-laundering institution by the U.S. Treasury.
Speaking immediately after Latvia’s successful evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was announced on February 21, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš – himself a Latvian/American dual citizen – said: “The FATF announcement proves that we have succeeded with the overhaul of Latvia’s financial sector. A year ago, we set an ambitious target to rebuild Latvia’s AML/CTF system and restore our country’s reputation, and this goal has been met.”
Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Head of the Moneyval and FATF delegation Ilze Znotiņa said: “The ability to establish an effective control and surveillance mechanism that prevents exploitation of our own financial system for criminal activity is the responsibility of every state, including Latvia. It is a matter of national reputation, self-respect and honour. We have established a stable and secure system that prevents terrorist and proliferation financiers from manipulating the Latvian financial system for criminal gain, achieved a high level of transparency of legal entities, and significantly strengthened the capacity and knowledge of Latvian law enforcement agencies. On the other hand, the legislator has understood and recognised the threats already caused, or likely to be caused, by economic crimes if the state does not have the will and proper legal regulation to combat them. Today, we are able to showcase to the world a set of results that were unimaginable until a couple of years ago.”
Further monitoring of Latvia’s progress will be conducted by Moneyval, the FATF regional body, under existing procedures.