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Latvian banks fined for breaching North Korea sanctions

Staff Writer |
Two Latvian banks have been fined more than 2.8 million euros (£2.5 million) for allowing clients to violate sanctions imposed by the European Union and United Nations on North Korea, the country's banking watchdog said.

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Norvik Banka was fined around 1.3 million euros and Rietumu Banka about 1.5 million euros for not complying with anti-money laundering rules and counter terrorist financing requirements (AML/CTF), the Financial and Capital Market Commission of Latvia said in a statement.

"The measures taken in this case (are) a lesson to all the banks in Latvia not to be used for suspicious deals," Peteris Putnins, head of the watchdog, said in the announcement.

The banks, which mainly serve non-resident clients, were fined after an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States.

The banks had allowed their clients to use offshore companies and a complicated chain of transactions to transfer payments to North Korea, thus bypassing international sanctions, between 2009 and 2015, according to the watchdog.

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