Latvian prosecutor hands central bank chief graft case to court

FILE PHOTO: Latvia's central bank governor Ilmars Rimsevics, charged with accepting a bribe and awaiting trial, speaks at a news conference in Riga, Latvia June 7, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

RIGA (Reuters) - A corruption case against Latvian central bank governor Ilmars Rimsevics has been handed to a court for consideration, the Latvian Prosecution Office said on Tuesday, more than a year after he was first detained by anti-corruption agents.

Rimsevics, a top policy-maker at the European Central Bank, was detained by the Latvian anti-corruption agents in mid-February last year and was later charged with accepting bribes – a pleasure trip and 250,000 euros from a Latvian bank - and money laundering.

“The court now has to consider whether it will accept the case,” Viorika Jirgena, the prosecutor in charge of the case, told Reuters.

Rimsevics, who has denied all wrongdoing, will see his term at the Latvian central bank end later this year. He has been barred from office in Latvia but was allowed to resume his duties at the ECB earlier this year.

Latvia is scrambling to clean up its financial sector as the Baltic country is yet to undergo a review by Moneyval, the money laundering and terrorism financing monitoring body of the Council of Europe, the continent’s main human rights watchdog, early next year.

Latvia’s central bank chief’s corruption case and the U.S. decision to accuse the country’s third largest bank ABLV of money laundering and U.S. sanction breaches in 2018 set off the country’s worst financial crisis in a decade.

Reporting by Gederts Gelzis; Editing by Johan Ahlander, William Maclean