On Thursday, 9 November, a presentation event was held in Brussels, Belgium, to present Latvia as the future headquarters of the new European Union (EU) agency, the European Anti-Money Laundering authority (AMLA). Representatives of EU institutions and Member States, media and other interested parties had gathered at the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Latvia to learn about Latvia's offer and benefits.
"Latvia has extensive and internationally recognised experience in tackling money laundering and terrorist financing. However, we are not stopping at what we have already achieved, but we are always striving to improve our capabilities even further and to serve as a good role model for other countries in this field. I am convinced that Riga is the right place for the AMLA headquarters, also to promote geographical balance and European unity," said Līga Kļaviņa, Deputy State Secretary on Financial Policy Issues at the Ministry of Finance.
Currently, the significant financial sector supervisory authorities at EU level are mainly located in the big EU Member States, such as France and Germany. The AMLA headquarters in Latvia would contribute to the geographical balance in the placement of EU decentralised agencies.
"Latvijas Banka has developed an extensive, globally recognised and digitally advanced AML supervisory practice. We have competent, experienced, and determined financial sector experts, as well as extensive innovative technological support to strengthen the collective European efforts to fight financial crime," says Kristīne Černaja-Mežmale, Member of the Council of Latvijas Banka.
"We have made significant progress in the fight against financial crime - we have built a strong prevention system, an extensive network of national and international cooperation, and an appropriate regulatory framework. We have a strong technological infrastructure that has allowed us to significantly increase our effectiveness in the fight against financial crime. This can be confirmed by the fact that the Financial Intelligence Unit and Riga are home to the first AML Innovation Centre, designed to develop innovation, cooperation and the use of advanced technologies in the fight against financial crime. Latvia is a small and open country with historically developed international trade relations. I see it as an excellent place to build new international centres of excellence based on innovation and technology, including the centre for fighting money laundering," said Toms Platacis, Chief of the Financial Intelligence Unit.
Latvia's nomination is an important contribution to strengthening the country's image and reputation, positioning Latvia as a safe investment and sustainable economic destination, and shows Latvia's capacity and readiness to host a major EU agency and ensure its functionality and adequate infrastructure.
"Riga is like a hidden gem, and we should talk more about it. I call it the "big small" city, which offers everything that a large metropolis can offer. We have a well-developed infrastructure, world-class entertainment and leisure opportunities, modern housing and a multicultural environment. Riga is also a regional air hub, with three times as many passengers each year as the country's entire population. From Riga you can reach most European destinations within two hours," says Fredis Bikovs, Director of Riga Investment and Tourism Development Agency.
A quality start by hosting the AMLA in Latvia will reinforce Latvia's image as an active and serious cooperation partner. It will also ensure that Latvia's attractiveness to investors is enhanced and it will support the plans of governments, municipalities and businesses to develop and modernise general and service infrastructure that will bring benefits to a wide range of residents and workers.
More about the project "Latvia - Future Home for AMLA".