Latvian parliament urges embattled central bank boss to resign


Riga (AFP)

Latvia's parliament on Thursday urged longtime central bank chief Ilmars Rimsevics to step down after anti-corruption authorities accused him of bribe-taking.

The call for his resignation was passed with 55 lawmakers voting in favour, zero against, and two abstentions. Legally, the eurozone member's governor cannot be dismissed.

Before the vote, the other members of the Bank of Latvia's supervisory board banned Rimsevics from attending meetings of the European Central Bank governing council. The deputy governor replaced him in Frankfurt on Thursday.

Rimsevics's lawyer Saulvedis Varpins called the parliament vote "incompatible with the rule of law" and inspired by "pre-election populism".

The parliament's "resolution can be regarded as documented political pressure on Rimsevics and the European Central Bank," Varpins told the Baltic news agency BNS.

Appointed in 2001, Rimsevics was detained last month by the Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) and accused of having solicited and receiving a bribe of at least 100,000 euros ($125,000).

Now out on bail and barred from carrying out his duties, Rimsevics has denied the accusations and refuses to step down.

He told the Financial Times last month that he believes the allegations are a result of his efforts to have banks undergo audits by US law firms in 2016 and 2017, which lowered their profits.