“Latvia is investigating whether its banks acted as conduits for Russian funds used to interfere in elections and politics elsewhere, after it received a warning from the United States, officials have told Reuters.
The allegations, which highlight the country’s role as a stepping stone for Russian money on its way to the west, come after Latvia’s third largest bank was shut in February after being accused by the United States of money laundering.
The ministers did not give details of which cases were being investigated but three senior Latvian officials said that one concerned the movement of funds from Russia through a Latvian bank to support an attempted coup in 2016 in Montenegro.
Late that year, as Montenegrins voted in an election, authorities arrested 20 people from neighbouring Serbia on charges of planning armed attacks against the state. Serbia later said it had uncovered evidence including 125,000 euros ($144,000) in cash and stashed uniforms.
Montenegro’s Special Prosecutor later accused Moscow of involvement in the plot, which he said was aimed at halting the integration of the former Yugoslav republic into NATO. The Kremlin has dismissed such claims as absurd.
‘The money which flowed through Latvia was possibly used to finance the coup in Montenegro,’ said one of the Latvian officials, who all asked not to be named, describing the ongoing investigation into the case.
‘It might have been divided into parts, payments like $15,000, so that no one would notice.'” (Reuters)