An EU jurist has said Latvia was wrong to suspend its top banker over bribery claims, while the bloc continues to reel from financial scandal.
Latvia barred Ilmars Rimsevics from meetings of the ECB’s governing council. He was accused of taking €250,000 in bribes five years ago. He denies all charges.
Latvian bank Trasta Kommercbanka was involved in an €18bn money laundering scheme and closed in 2016. One of the lawyers brought in to wind the company down, Martin Bunkus, was murdered in Riga in May.
The ECB is also protesting, launching a legal challenge in Luxembourg arguing that a state can only bar governors if guilty of “serious misconduct”. A ruling in the ECB’s favour, which is highly likely, would help keep central banks away from the politics of nation states.
The clear danger, however, is that if Rimsevics is indeed found guilty the ECB will be dragged into the scandal and its reputation will take a hit.