RIGA (Reuters) - The United States has removed its sanctions on one of Latvia’s main ports after the Baltic country’s government took control of the port, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Wednesday.
Latvia’s parliament passed legislation last week to take control of the country’s two biggest ports in an effort to keep them open after U.S. sanctions against a Latvian oligarch threatened operations.
Latvian politician and businessman Aivars Lembergs and four entities that he owns or controls had been hit by U.S. sanctions on corruption allegations. Lembergs called the allegations “fake news”.
“The delisting of the Ventspils Freeport Authority underscores our commitment to work closely with our partners to combat corruption,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.
Ventspils is Latvia’s second-biggest port after Riga. It is a major oil product export route for Belarus, an ex-Soviet republic otherwise dependent on financial support from Moscow.
“It’s good news for the Latvian transit business and for the businessmen who cooperate with the freeport of Ventspils,” Latvian Transport Minister Talis Linkaits said on Twitter.
The Latvian government said earlier on Wednesday that it would establish a new, state-owned company to govern the port of Ventspils. The port will be supervised by four representatives appointed by the government, it said.
Reporting by Gederts Gelzis; Editing by Helena Soderpalm and Peter Cooney