Latvian Bank Was Laundering Tool

Banking records obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) indicate that the Latvian bank Trasta Komercbanka was the final destination for billions of dollars that left Russia in a massive money laundering scheme.

In each case found by OCCRP and investigated by Moldovan anti-money laundering police, two UK-based-but-offshore-owned companies signed what police say were bogus loan contracts.

Here’s how police say the scheme worked:

Trasta Komercbanka is one of the oldest private banks in Latvia. It was founded under the name Riga Bank in 1989 but in 1995 changed its name to Trasta Komercbanka.

The bank initially offered banking services as well as loans to companies and investment services. After the Russian financial crisis of 1997 the bank changed its mode of operation and, in 2000, began specializing in serving VIP clients. The bank has offices in Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Canada, and Bulgaria as well as in Cyprus.

Trasta Komercbanka was one of six Latvian banks used in the Sergey Magnitsky case.

OCCRP sent Trasta a set of questions regarding the money-laundering operations but a bank spokesperson replied that the bank cannot comment on the case. It has not been charged with any illegal activities although it has been involved in other cases where money laundering was alleged.

Related stories

Families Torn Apart in Macedonia’s Media War

Macedonia’s intense political struggle -- waged in the halls of parliament, in the streets, and in the media -- isn’t just for ideologues. It’s tearing apart ordinary families.

How Macedonia’s Scandal-plagued Nationalists Lobbied America’s Right and Pulled Them Into an Anti-Soros Crusade

Until late last year, a mention of Macedonia in the halls of power in Washington, DC, would most likely elicit only shrugs.