Do Putin's daughters have secret bank accounts in Latvia?
The FCMC already carried out an inspection in 2018 and told the media that "the Compliance Control Department of the Financial and Capital Market Commission has carried out the relevant inspection, and according to the information obtained from the banks during the inspection, we can say that there are no such persons among the clients of Latvian banks".
Four years have passed since then and the situation has also changed. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the EU and other countries imposed sanctions on a number of individuals linked with Putin. On April 8, Putin's daughters Maria Vorontsova, born in 1985, and Yekaterina Tikhonova, born in 1986, were added to the EU's renewed sanctions list. They were previously sanctioned by the US and the UK.
"Given that Putin's daughters are on the sanctions list, the banks are thoroughly inspected and, if it is found that the bank has accounts of sanctioned persons or natural or legal persons related to such persons, the funds in them are frozen. There are no accounts of such persons in Latvian banks," Dace Jansone, Head of the Communications Department of the Financial and Capital Market Commission, told Neatkarīgā.
The media also occasionally write about Putin's illegitimate children. So far, however, none of them has been officially included in the sanctions lists.
Banks and the FCMC are checking not only the possible interests of Putin and those close to him in Latvia. Many individuals and companies are on the sanctions lists.
Around €56 million had been frozen in Latvian banks by the end of the day on April 1, according to data compiled by the Financial and Capital Market Commission this week, in connection with the European Union's sanctions against Russia. Almost €100,000 more were frozen between April 1 and April 8. "So we can say that this week the process has slowed down and the increase is relatively small. Overall, therefore, it is the same approximately €56 million. The banks have provided data in line with the assessment carried out up to that date, but the work is ongoing and the amount of frozen funds may increase," Jansone added.
As in early April, Latvian banks have identified three natural persons directly subject to sanctions and 32 legal persons who are not directly included in the sanctions lists, but the ownership or control of the persons subject to sanctions in these legal entities has been established, and their funds and securities have been frozen. The FCMC is not entitled to disclose the natural persons and companies whose assets are currently frozen.
Previously, the FCMC noted that the Latvian financial sector has pursued an approach that considers Russia as a high-risk jurisdiction, and as a result, Russian deposits in Latvian banks have decreased significantly since 2015, representing only 1.1% of total deposits attracted.
The FCMC also noted that banks, in cooperation with their clients, continue to carry out extensive due diligence work, ensuring the necessary actions for the implementation of sanctions, including transaction analysis, identification of true beneficiaries, related parties and persons under control, in order to ensure the effective application of sanctions and prevent the use of the Latvian financial sector to circumvent sanctions or to provide financial services to persons subject to sanctions.
At the same time, the FCMC drew attention to the fact that it cannot investigate specific clients or transactions on behalf of banks or natural and legal persons. In cases where there is insufficient or unclear information about business partners or clients, a decision should be based on a risk assessment, which may result in the complete termination of the business relationship or increased monitoring of the business relationship, or restrictions on certain transactions, as appropriate. It should also be borne in mind that the war in Ukraine waged by Russia continues and that new sanctions are being imposed and are likely to continue to be imposed. The FCMC asks citizens to be understanding if banks ask additional questions about the purpose or details of payments to or from Russia or Belarus. The purpose of these additional enquiries is to ensure that payments are not made to or for the benefit of persons on the sanctions list.