Denying bribery claim, central bank head says crisis a key moment for Latvia

Latvia's central bank governor Ilmars Rimsevics arrives at the news conference in Riga, Latvia February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

RIGA (Reuters) - Latvian central bank governor Ilmars Rimsevics on Tuesday reaffirmed his denial of a bribery allegation made against him by the Russian owner of a local bank, and said he would not resign.

The crisis unleashed on Latvia’s financial sector by the allegation and a money laundering inquiry against its third biggest lender marked “a very important moment” for the country as a whole, Rimsevics said in an interview on public television.

He said some Latvian banks “wanted blood” after their business activities were reined in under an independent audit of the sector that followed Latvia’s accession to the euro zone.

Rimsevics also said he would attend a non-policy meeting of the European Central Bank on Wednesday if he was allowed to.

reporting by Gederts Gelzis, writing by John Stonestreet, editing by Mark Heinrich