Latvian bank Rietumu fined 5.85 mln for money laundering failures

June 17 (Reuters) - Latvia’s Rietumu Banka has been fined 5.85 million euros ($6.96 million) for failure to vet its clients and monitor them for money laundering and terrorist financing, the country’s banking watchdog said on Thursday.

The fine on the bank, which mainly serves non-resident clients, is a result of inspections in 2019 and 2020, the watchdog said.

Rietumu could not be reached for comment outside of regular business hours.

Latvian news agency LETA reported on Thursday that Rietumu representatives said they would give a response after they had had time to look at the regulator’s decision.

“These were minor mistakes and shortcomings, therefore we are very surprised by the size of the fine,” the bank’s representatives told LETA.

There have been a series corruption and money laundering scandals in Latvia, where many financial institutions had promoted themselves as a gateway to Western markets for clients in former Soviet states.

Latvia shut its third largest ABLV Bank in 2018 after U.S. authorities accused it of money laundering and U.S. sanctions breaches, plunging the country into its worst financial crisis in a decade.

$1 = 0.8408 euros Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius. Editing by Jane Merriman