RIGA, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Latvia's ABLV Bank and its key shareholders have filed a lawsuit with the Court of Justice of the European Union (EU), asking to rule on the legality of the decisions taken in February by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Single Resolution Board (SRB) that led to the bank's shutdown, ABLV representatives informed on Monday.
The bank's representatives admitted that the lawsuit would not stop the bank's ongoing liquidation, but that the legal action is being taken to exonerate the bank's executives and partners and possibly to demand compensations if the court rules in favor of ABLV Bank.
The question, ABLV representatives say, is whether the ECB and SRE had the authority to order the Latvian bank's shutdown in line with national laws after a U.S. authority released a report accusing the bank of aiding money-laundering schemes and bribing Latvian officials.
An SRB representative has already admitted that the SRB has probably made a mistake, as taking such decision might be the prerogative of national courts and banking authorities.
Moreover, both the Latvian banking regulator and Finance Ministry had indicated that winding up was only one the options for ABLV Bank in the given situation.
Another important question ABLV Bank wants the European court to rule on is whether the ECB and the SRB had properly assessed the Latvian bank's financial state before ordering its shutdown. The ECB and the SRB never criticized the bank's capitalization or profitability. They only made an assumption that ABLV Bank was likely to face liquidity issues in a near future.
It is also important that the ECB and SRB decisions were not based on anti-money laundering considerations, the bank's representatives said.
On Feb. 23, the ECB ordered ABLV Bank to wind up in line with Latvian laws after Latvia's financial regulator, the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC), adopted a decision on the occurrence of unavailability of deposits at ABLV Bank because the ECB had not allowed to lift payment restrictions imposed on ABLV Bank on Feb. 18.
In a report released on Feb. 13, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said that the ABLV management "used bribery to influence Latvian officials when challenging enforcement actions and perceived threats to their high-risk business".
FinCEN proposed sanctioning ABLV for involvement in money laundering schemes by banning the bank from opening or maintaining correspondent accounts in the U.S. or altogether blocking the bank from the U.S. financial system.