July 31, 2018 / 4:46 PM / in 21 days

Latvia allows charged central bank chief to name his ECB replacement

RIGA, July 31 (Reuters) - Latvia’s public prosecutor said on Tuesday it would allow the central bank governor, who has been charged with soliciting and accepting a bribe, to appoint his replacement on the European Central Bank’s policy-making board.

Ilmars Rimsevics, a member of the ECB’ governing council, is suspected of accepting the offer of a 500,000-euro bribe. He has denied the allegation.

Latvian authorities have barred him from the central bank’s top job pending the investigation, and from participating in ECB policy meetings.

Aiga Eiduka, spokeswoman at the Prosecutor General’s Office, said the prosecutor’s decision to allow Rimsevics to nominate his replacement at the ECB constituted a “slight change” to the security measures imposed on him.

The decision follows a July 20 instruction from the EU’s Court of Justice (CJEU) to Latvia.

The court had received a complaint from the ECB questioning the legality of Rimsevics’ removal from the governor’s job, and asking that at least some of his powers be reinstated. If Rimsevics knows that he is not able to go to the ECB meetings for more than a month, then he is entitled to appoint a stand-in, Eiduka said. The Council of the Bank of Latvia has already asked Rimsevics, who is still incumbent, to provide authorization for a representation on the ECB’s governing council, Bank of Latvia spokesman Kristaps Otersons said. “It is expected that it will be a professional who is be able to participate in the work of the ECB (Governing) Council and its decisions very quickly and proficiently. For instance, (it could be) a suitable official from the Bank of Latvia,” he said in an emailed statement.

Rimsevics’ lawyer was not immediately available for a comment. (Reporting by Gederts Gelzis, editing by Anna Ringstrom and Richard Balmforth)

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