UPDATE 1-Latvia’s central bank governor Rimsevics detained

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RIGA, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Latvia’s central bank Governor Ilmars Rimsevics, who is a member of the European Central Bank’s Governing Council, has been detained by the country’s anti-corruption agency, the prime minister’s office said on Sunday, without disclosing further details.

Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis said Rimsevics’ detention did not pose a risk to financial stability.

“There are no indications that would suggest threats to the financial system of Latvia,” Kucinskis said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola would hold a news conference at 1300 GMT, the minister’s office said, while a spokesperson for the European Central Bank declined to comment.

The Latvian government and central bank have not disclosed the allegations against Rimsevics but Economics Minister Arvils Aseradens said the governor should consider resigning.

“Logic of the things now determines that the governor of Bank of Latvia, who is one of the highest officials in the country, has to seriously consider about dismissing himself from the post now,” Aseradens told state broadcaster Radio Latvia on Sunday.

The Latvian Central Bank is an independent institution and Rimsevics has been its head since 2001. He has been a member of the ECB’s Governing Council since January 2014, when Latvia adopted the euro.

The home and office of the central bank’s governor was searched on Friday, the state broadcaster said on Saturday.

It is a another setback for Latvia’s banking sector, which has also been hit by allegations by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) that the Baltic country’s third largest financial institution by assets, ABLV Bank, has institutionalized money laundering.

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FinCen said last week that it was seeking to impose sanctions on ABLV. ABLV said in a statement in response on Tuesday that FinCen had referred to unfounded and misleading information about the bank.

Reporting by Gederts Gelzis, writing by Johan Ahlander;
Editing by Toby Chopra and Susan Fenton