ABLV Bank, the second largest bank in Latvia, said on February 14 it will cooperate with the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) over allegations that it was involved in illegal activity, some of it linked to North Korea.
The bank’s response follows FinCEN’s proposal from the previous day to ban ABLV Bank from the US financial system. According to FinCEN, the Latvian bank "proactively pushes money laundering and regulatory circumvention schemes to its client base”.
ABLV Bank’s illicit activity has also involved “transactions for parties involved in North Korea’s procurement or export of ballistic missiles”, FinCEN said.
Facing a ban in the US, ABLV Bank pledged cooperation with FinCEN and said it “strongly denounces the use of financial institutions in illegal actions, including money laundering, terrorism financing and circumventing sanctions”.
FinCEN’s allegations have prompted Latvian authorities to react as well. Latvia’s Corruption Prevention Bureau would launch an inquiry into the US allegations, it said on February 13.
Latvia has long been eyed as a haven for illegal money, especially stemming from Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union. The Baltic state has, however, undertaken a number of measures over the past couple of years in a bid to improve control over money flows through its banking system, especially the boutique banks specialising in non-resident services.
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