From 4th to 8th December 2019, Jānis Bordāns, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice, together with Juris Jurašs, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, went for an official visit to Washington (USA) where they met representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the World Bank to discuss measures taken by Latvia, more specifically – the Ministry of Justice, to implement Moneyval recommendations and fight against financial and economic crimes.
Over the course of the meeting, discussions were held with Justin Muzinich, the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, about the initiative of the Minister of Justice to establish the specialized Court in economic matters; efforts of Latvia to introduce the system of true beneficiaries in the Register of Enterprises; amendments to the Law on Public Prosecution Office concerning the selection procedure of a candidate for the position of the Prosecutor General; proposed amendments to the Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law and Civil Procedure Law submitted to the Parliament (Saeima) where such amendments were developed in order to improve the effectivity of criminal procedures and court proceedings. The U.S. representatives were also informed about audit carried out by the State Audit Office into circumstances hindering efficient investigation and trial of criminal offences in financial and economic cases. The U.S. representatives supported establishment of a specialized court for economic cases and suggested that money laundering charges for involved high-level managers would be the clearest sign proving the willingness of Latvia to fight money laundering.
Jānis Bordāns, the Minister of Justice, emphasizes: the United States of America are well aware of the situation in Latvia and know the difficulties we here are facing in establishing a system for combating financial crimes, because up until now insufficient attention was paid to the risks of money laundering indicated in Moneyval report. The most important is that the U.S. representatives stressed the same fact which was already suggested in Latvia's Phase 3 Report by the Working Group on Bribery (WGB) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), that is, Latvia has accomplished a lot in organizing the legal base, but the main issue is lack of charges against high-level bank managers for money laundering through banking infrastructures.
During the visit J. Bordāns on December 7 visited the Board Meeting of the American Latvian Association to inform about the initiatives of the Ministry of Justice and thank the American Latvian Association and local Latvians for cooperation and support in order to improve the rule of law and business environment in Latvia.