Latvian officials have confirmed that they complained to the European Union about New Zealand and Russia’s lax laws on money laundering after an OCCRP investigation detailed the laundering of US$ 680 million.
Both countries have been stricken from the EU’s banking and corporate ‘white list’ because of their weak anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism frameworks. The EU also raised alarm about high levels of corruption in Russia.
The country’s Deputy State Secretary on financial policy issues in the Ministry of Finance, Arina Andreicika, said it removed New Zealand from the list because they have been used to launder hundreds of millions through banks in Latvia’s capital Riga.
In November, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project published a series of investigative stories and documents detailing how a New Zealand company laundered US$680 million through a single Latvian bank account.
Following publication, Latvia’s Economy Minister Daniels Pavluts expressed his embarrassment that his country was involved in “obvious offshore schemes,” reports a New Zealand newspaper.
Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, South Africa and the United States are on the ‘white list.’
Being removed from it means that banks and other financial institutions in Latvia and the EU can no longer accept and acknowledge the ‘know your customer’ identification and analysis performed in New Zealand.