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article imageLatvia central banker gets green light to travel abroad

By AFP     Mar 5, 2019 in World

Latvian prosecutors on Tuesday said they had temporarily lifted a travel ban on the eurozone country's central bank chief who is facing bribery charges, allowing him to attend a board meeting of the European Central Bank.

"Prosecutor Viorika Jirgena, who is handling the case, has granted temporary permission to Ilmars Rimsevics, who is accused in a bribery case, to attend the ECB meeting in Frankfurt," press secretary Laura Majevska for Latvia's prosecutor general told AFP.

The green light by prosecutors means that he will be able to attend an ECB governing council meeting on Thursday.

Last Tuesday, the EU's top court overturned Latvia's suspension of Rimsevics, saying the authorities had not shown enough evidence to support bribery allegations against him.

Rimsevics was able to return to his job as Latvia's central bank governor last week thanks to the ruling.

Latvian authorities had suspended him from the post as central bank chief in February last year after he was charged with taking bribes of half a million euros in connection with a money laundering racket, an allegation which he flatly denied.

Rimsevics had also been temporarily replaced by Zoja Razmusa, his longtime deputy, at meetings of the 25-member ECB's governing council.

Due to the corruption charges he still faces at home, Rimsevics remains under a travel ban and must ask prosecutors for permission each time he wants to travel abroad.

No court date has yet been set for a trial. Rimsevics could face up to 11 years behind bars if found guilty.

Latvia has been scrambling to reform its banking sector after a string of high profile corruption and money laundering allegations.

Most notably, US authorities in February 2018 accused ABLV, the third-largest lender, of large-scale money laundering with connections to North Korea's nuclear weapons development programme.

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