Latvian Government to Seize Control of Ports Following Sanctions

(Bloomberg) --

Latvia passed legislation giving the government full control of the Baltic nation’s biggest ports after the U.S. sanctioned one of them along with a local official with close ties to it.

With unusual speed, parliament passed all the necessary legislation on Thursday after its submission the previous day. It voted 52-22 in a second and final vote.

The law will allow the government to name all the board members of the Riga and Ventspils ports, removing municipal representation in the leadership. The U.S. Treasury on Monday added “oligarch” Aivars Lembergs, the long-time mayor of Ventspils, to its so-called Magnitsky list of crooked officials along with the city’s port.

Lembergs, who’s been fighting corruption charges in Latvia for about a decade, blamed his political rivals for his troubles and said the allegations were invented and falsified.

Latvia -- a NATO and European Union member -- is trying to rebuild its reputation after a string of money-laundering scandals and the ongoing trial of its central bank governor for bribery.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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