RIGA, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Latvia promised more efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing after its performance received a critical assessment of the Council of Europe's anti-money laundering experts on Thursday.
Representatives of Moneyval, the Council of Europe's Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, who visited Riga this week, presented the committee's new report on Latvia.
According to the report, the Latvian authorities' abilities to detect ultimate beneficial owners and cases of proliferation financing through Latvian banks were insufficient.
Head of the Latvia's anti-money laundering agency, Ilze Znotina, admitted that a failure to follow the recommendations provided in the Moneyval report might mean serious consequences for the country. She also predicted that the report would damage the Latvian financial sector's reputation, but pledged to do everything to restore it.
According to the Moneyval report, both Latvian policy-makers and entrepreneurs have insufficient understanding of money laundering and terrorist financing risks, and the Baltic countries' law enforcement authorities have not been doing enough to crack down on these crimes.
For that reason, Moneyval has put Latvia in an enhanced follow-up process, meaning that Latvia is now expected to regularly report on its progress on AML/CFT (anti-money-laundering/combating the financing of terrorism) compliance.
Latvia's officials in charge of the country's AML/CFT compliance acknowledged that the Moneyval report is fair. After a meeting of the Latvian financial sector development council at which Moneyval head Daniel Thelesklaf presented the report to Latvian officials, Znotina said that Latvia has to do its homework.
"We have to realize that without allocating certain resources for this purpose -- both intellectual and financial -- we cannot do it as some side job. This is the most important job because the consequences of not tackling it seriously can be very far-reaching and painful," Znotina said.
By Sept. 11, Latvia will adopt a detailed plan of AML/CFT measures that have to be implemented by the end of next year, Znotina said.