Banks, Financial Services, Latvia

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 27.02.2020, 18:59

Latvia: Foreign chambers of commerce express concern about financial market reform

BC, Riga, 24.01.2020.Print version
Foreign chambers of commerce in Latvia approve of the ongoing financial market reforms, but there are still concerns and many uncertainties regarding banks' customer due diligence procedures, as Armands Gutmanis, head of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Latvia, told LETA.

He said that the Irish, British, Norwegian, Swiss and Swedish chambers of commerce in Latvia, as well as Ellex Klavins law firm, recently had a meeting with the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) Chairwoman Santa Purgaile.

According to Gutmanis, several participants in the discussion pointed out that banks' customer assessment processes were very long. "For instance, it is impossible for a foreigner working in Latvia to quickly open a bank account, it takes several months. It is difficult for companies with partners outside the European Union to start operations and open a bank account in Latvia. For this reason, foreign companies tend to choose Estonia." Banks' customer due diligence procedures increasingly often affect customers' privacy, participants in the discussion also said.

Pugaile explained that anti-money laundering procedures apply to all countries. In addition, Latvia is in the front line and may have introduced stricter requirements than other countries, but the whole world is moving in that same direction.

Purgaile emphasized that Latvia was at the forefront of change, and quoted European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, who had said that serious money laundering scandals involving a number of European banks confirm that Europe needs to do more to improve the financial sector.

Purgaile explained that in order to help banks in the new situation and improve the customer assessment process, the FCMC is preparing a manual that will summarize all regulatory requirements and specific examples. Work on the manual could be complete in July or August.

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