RIGA, Latvia (AFP) — Latvian anti-corruption authorities yesterday said they suspected an unnamed senior official of accepting a 100,000-euro bribe, with local media naming the central bank governor arrested over the weekend.
The Baltic eurozone member's government had said there was no sign of danger to the financial system on Sunday after the governor, Ilmars Rimsevics, was detained by officers from the Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB).
On Monday, KNAB chief Jekabs Straume announced an investigation had been launched into suspected bribery involving an unnamed individual.
“The senior official is suspected of having extorted and received a bribe of at least 100,000 euros ($125,000),” KNAB Straume told reporters.
He added that the allegations “made it impossible for the official to continue to perform his duties”.
The Baltic News Agency (BNS) and other local media reported that the official in question was Rimsevics, who was appointed governor in 2001.
As Latvia is part of the euro area, Rimsevics is also a member of the main body of the European Central Bank (ECB), the Governing Council, composed of the 19 governors of the eurozone.
He was detained by KNAB officers on Saturday and questioned for seven hours before being taken to another location on Sunday.
Anti-corruption officers also raided Rimsevics's residence and his offices at the Bank of Latvia.
LTV public television reported that businessman Maris Martinsons, who operates in the construction and credit industries, had also been arrested by KNAB.
Rimsevics's lawyer requested that he be freed on bail. A friend of the governor has already posted the 100,000 euros which, if accepted by justice officials, could see Rimsevics freed late Monday.
Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis said Monday that restrictions would be imposed on Rimsevics if he is released on bail.
“He will be prevented from carrying out his functions,” Kuncinskis told reporters after an emergency cabinet meeting.
The head of the parliament's national security committee, Inese Libina-Egnere, on Monday urged Rimsevics to resign. Otherwise the parliament would seek other legal avenues to dismiss him, she told reporters.