Latvian PM says central bank chief should resign

Latvia corruption agency searches c.bank governor's home, office: state TV

"I am not guilty".

It says Mr Rimsevics has been demanding payments since 2015 and threatening tougher regulation if the money was not forthcoming.

Latvia Central bank chief Ilmars Rimsevics faces a criminal investigation for bribery but is not charged so far. The document, obtained by Bloomberg News, didn't name him, referring only to a "very high-level, senior Latvian public official". Norvik's CEO, Oliver Bramwell, told The Associated Press: "The high-level official mentioned in our request for arbitration is Rimsevics".

Events in Latvia were also discussed at a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers with Eurogroup President Mario Centeno saying they had been informed about events in Latvia and describing the unfolding scandals as "at this stage a domestic issue". That comes after the U.S. Treasury said last week that ABLV had "institutionalized money laundering" and recommended that ABLV be cut off from dollar transactions with U.S. banks.

The latest allegations have put the government in a tight spot.

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Once word spread that ABLV was managing accounts for clients connected to North Korea, including the sanctioned Foreign Trade Bank that handles the funding for Pyongyang's banned nuclear weapons programme, key financial institutions finally began cutting ties to the bank and thus denying it access to outside funding.

Rimsevics accused a group of banks of trying to undermine him, deceiving law enforcement and regulators.

"We don't participate in any illegal activities", ABLV Bank Deputy CEO Vadims Reinfelds told a news conference.

The Bank of Latvia said its operations were not affected by Rimsevics' detention, adding it is not in a position to provide comment on the Corruption Prevention Bureau's actions.

In his interviews with the AP, Guselnikov had also claimed that his bank had been asked by Rimsevics' associate to launder $100 million from Russian Federation.

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Bloomberg describes the developments as a deepening "crisis" engulfing the Baltic nation's banking system. It's investigating "an alleged solicitation and acceptance of a bribe" of at least 100,000 euros, it said in a statement.

The ECB froze all payments by ABLV on its liabilities yesterday, after the bank's liquidity position collapsed in the wake of the USA allegations, CNBC reports.

As governor, Rimsevics enjoys robust independence.

Last week, the bank said the United States accusations were based on unfounded and misleading information.

US allegations that a leading bank engaged in money laundering and helped breach North Korean sanctions have also turned a spotlight on Latvia's financial system in recent days.

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Latvia's benchmark stock gauge, the OMX Riga Index, fell 0.1 percent to 1,021.337 on Tuesday after dropping 0.9 percent the day before.

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