March 10, 2018 / 1:29 PM / 8 days ago

Court rules Latvian bank ABLV may keep Luxembourg branch

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Latvia’s ABLV Bank, accused by U.S. authorities of large-scale money laundering, will be allowed to look for new investors for its Luxembourg branch after a court there ruled against forced liquidation by EU authorities, the bank said.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of the ABLV Bank is pictured in Riga, Latvia February 18, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

The decision comes after the European Union’s Single Resolution Board and the European Central Bank (ECB) said last month ABLV was failing and would be wound up.

It followed allegations by U.S. authorities Latvia’s third-biggest bank had covered up money laundering, bribed officials and facilitated the breach of sanctions against North Korea. ABLV has denied wrongdoing.

The accusations effectively froze the bank out of U.S. dollar financial markets, prompting its closure and hurting some local peers.

But the Luxembourg court on Friday rejected a request from the financial regulator — Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) — to liquidate ABLV’s Luxembourg branch, the court said in a statement.

The CSSF had been made a temporary administrator of the bank. The court said it appointed two new administrators on Friday.

ABLV said its Luxembourg branch had a strong financial standing, which was recognized by the court, and it would now look for new investors.

“The court has appointed two external administrators which will work at the bank during the following six months until the bank finds new investors,” the bank said in a statement late on Friday.

It was “very satisfied that the soundness of the Luxembourg entity has been recognized”, it added.

ABLV could not be immediately reached for further comments.

Reporting by Michele Sinner; writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; editing by Clelia Oziel

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