New lobbyists enter the circle
With parliament considering deeper checks of banks customers and an increase in fines for money laundering offences being proposed by the Ministry of Finance, the non-resident bank lobby has stepped up activities too.
The ideas are delivered to the parliament by the bank and entrepreneur associations, as well as the new think tank Certus, chaired by the once promising academic and politician Vyacheslav Dombrovsky. Its first report on Latvia’s competitiveness practically proposed that Latvia should be off-shorized.
The authors recommended luring the offshore companies that use Latvian banks to Latvia by offering them exceptionally favourable tax rates. Company tax of less than 2 percent was proposed (the regular rate is 15%), two years of tax holiday (up to 200,000 euro) for companies that re-register in Latvia and do not exceed a turnover of 50 million euros, and up to a five year exemption from the pension part of social insurance.
The Certus board includes the former ambassador and Minister of Foreign Affairs Aivis Ronis, who has worked as a non-resident bank representative, Deputy Chairman of the Board at ABLV Vadims Reinfelds, as well as the head of the Association of Latvian Commercial Banks Mārtiņš Bičevskis.
Dombrovsky refused to discuss the sources of funding, only saying they are 100% private and the same that supported the competitiveness report produced by the think tank. Of the supporters mentioned in the report Re:Baltica got confirmation only from the bank association and Lattelecom (the rest denied it, except LNK Industries which did not answer). ABLV, unofficially mentioned as the main source of funding for Certus, refused to answer the question and suggested to address the question to the think tank.
One of the country’s most prestigious universities, the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, has decided not cooperate with Certus and is going to terminate the cooperation with Dombrovsky and Daunis Auers who head the research in Certus. SSE Vice President Anders Alexandersson explained that “we neither work with organisations nor with people who are financed and are representing the interests of non-resident banks, since there is a high risk that we might be associated with money laundering – an activity that we do not consider commendable. “
by Sanita Jemberga, Evita Puriņa, Re:Baltica