As in all countries, Latvian banks are controlled by institutions that according to the law must be impartial.
The "Baltic International Bank SE" was searched and closed without explanations to its shareholders.
On December 1, 2022, Latvian riot police broke into Baltic International Bank SE in Riga, Latvia, and removed documents and electronic media from the bank.
No search warrant and no charges were brought to the attention of those present.
At the same time, the residences of the members of the bank's Board of Directors were also searched without any warrant.
The officials conducting the search only explained that an investigation was underway based of suspicions of money laundering following the introduction of new investors.
According to sources present at that time, the searches were supervised by the Latvian Financial Regulatory (FCMC).
On the same day, FCMC announced that the license of the Bank was suspended because oi was capital-deficient, failed to introduce new business strategy and failed to appoint viable new management.
Investments monitored by regulatory authorities
In the year prior to the searches, the bank's management worked hand in hand with the Latvian Financial and Capital Markets Commission. Indeed, Baltic International Bank SE was under an operating restriction in response to alleged operational failures related to the years 2016-2019.
In connection with this situation, all important decisions taken during the year 2021-2022 were validated by the Financial Markets Commission.
In November 2021, the Bank launched a share issue that was subscribed by shareholders who are now accused of money laundering. It should be noted that the Regulatory Authority approved those investors in 2022.
In spring 2022, a capital increase of the Bank was decided.
In order to control the new investors, Baltic International Bank SE relied on the due diligence checks conducted by Latvian, Swiss and American regulators.
The two share issues of the bank attracted investors from many countries (USA, Austria, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates ...) for an amount of 20 million Euros. One of the Emirati investors is a well-known member of the royal family.
Financial control or settling of accounts?
According to statements obtained by investigative journalists, the investigation against the bank was opened only one week before the search by some officials known to have conflicts with the bank's shareholders.
In its February 18, 2020, edition, the media outlet "Baltic News Network" writes that "Einars Repše, the former Latvian prime minister and former governor of the Bank of Latvia has become an advisor to Baltic International Bank's chairman, Valērijs Belokoņs."
Justice to the rescue of investors?
On January 27,2023, the news website TVNET reported that "The regional administrative court accepted Baltic International Bank's request and opened an investigation related to the decisions of the Financial and Capital Markets Commission (FCMC), which is attached to the Bank of Latvia as of this year, to suspend the bank's operations."
Director International Council for Diplomacy and Dialogue