May 30, 2018 / 3:12 PM / 19 days ago

Lawyer shot dead in Latvia, police see hand of organized crime

RIGA (Reuters) - A corporate lawyer who worked on managing the winding-down of insolvent companies was shot dead in the Latvian capital early on Wednesday in what police said appeared to be a killing linked to organized crime.

Latvian police officers gather near a car at the crime scene where insolvency administrator Martins Bunkus was murdered in Riga, Latvia May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Police said Martins Bunkus was shot by two men as he drove through the surburbs of Riga in early morning. His attackers escaped in a van which was later found abandoned and burnt out.

“We think that it was a carefully planned murder ... connected with the victim’s professional work. We think we are dealing here with organized crime,” Andrejs Grisins, a police official, told journalists. Bunkus had reported death threats to police in 2016, he added.

The killing casts a cloud over efforts by the former Soviet-ruled European Union state of 2 million people to fight corruption.

Latvian police expert inspect a car at the crime scene where insolvency administrator Martins Bunkus was murdered in Riga, Latvia May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

The governor of its central bank is being investigated by police for bribery and Latvia’s third-largest bank, ABLV, recently closed after it was accused by the United States of money laundering. Both the governor and bank deny wrongdoing.

Bunkus worked on the winding down of Trasta Komercbanka, a bank that lost its license in 2016 after it broke anti-money laundering and terror-financing rules, said one person with knowledge of the matter.

There is no suggestion his involvement with this process was connected with his murder.

Writing By John O'Donnell; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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