Latvia investigators hand central bank governor bribery case to prosecutors

RIGA, June 18 (Reuters) - Latvia’s anti-corruption body on Monday asked prosecutors to launch a prosecution against a Bank of Latvia official following a bribery investigation into governor Ilmars Rimsevics. The Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) said in a statement it had “sent materials of a criminal case ... for initiation of prosecution against two persons.”

It did not identify either individual, but it has referred to a top-level official of the bank in previous statements about the investigation. State media reported that the official in question was Rimsevics.

Central bank governor since 2001 and a member of the European Central Bank Governing Council, Rimsevics is suspected of soliciting and accepting a bribe of at least 100,000 euros. He denies any wrongdoing.

A KNAB spokeswoman declined to give further details.

A spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General’s office said it now had 10 days to decide whether to prosecute, ask for additional evidence or to drop the case.

“Starting from tomorrow, there are 10 days until June 29 for the prosecutor to decide what to do with the case,” the spokeswoman told Reuters.

Rimsevics’ lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

Though still incumbent, Rimsevics has been barred by Latvian authorities from working as the governor and he is not able to participate in the meetings of the European Central Bank. (Reporting by Gederts Gelzis; Editing by Johan Ahlander, William Maclean)