March 8, 2018 / 5:17 PM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-ECB goes to court after Latvian governor barred from meeting

 (Adds detail)
    By Francesco Canepa
    FRANKFURT, March 8 (Reuters) - The European Central Bank is
asking the European Union's top court whether the Latvian
authorities can keep the country's central bank governor from
his role as an ECB policymaker because of bribery allegations.
    The government has barred the central bank chief, Ilmars
Rimsevics, from leaving his country over accusations that he
solicited a bribe. Unable to travel, he could not attend an ECB
policy meeting in Frankfurt on Thursday.
    The ECB is now asking the European Court of Justice if the
restrictions imposed on Rimsevics comply with the bank's rules,
which say governors can only be relieved of office if they can't
fulfil their duties or are "guilty of serious misconduct".  
    "The Governing Council has decided, again unanimously, to
ask for clarification ... whether individual security measures
imposed on the governor of Latvia's bank ... have had the effect
of relieving him from office and if these measures comply with
(EU) law," ECB President Mario Draghi told a news conference on
Thursday.
    Rimsevics, who denies all charges, is one of three members
of the ECB policy-making Governing Council currently under
investigation, in what some inside the institution perceive as a
threat to its independence.
    He was detained by anti-corruption agents last month,
suspected of taking a bribe. He has refused to resign, creating
a political dilemma for the Latvian government, which cannot
sack him, and an embarrassment for the ECB             .
    The Latvian central bank has stripped him of his salary and
barred him from accessing documents.
    The ECB's Governing Council is made up of six Executive
Board members, who run the institution and include Draghi, and
the chiefs of the euro zone's 19 national central banks. 
    The Bank of Latvia was represented by Deputy Governor Zoja
Razmusa at Thursday's meeting.
    The other two ECB governors under investigation in their own
countries, Greece's Yanis Stournaras and Slovenia's Bostjan
Jazbec, regularly take part in meetings. 

 (Additional reporting by Gederts Gelzis in Riga; editing by
Larry King)
  
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