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Latvian central bank boss released on bail

Ilmars Rimsevics, seen in profile, in this 2009 photoImage copyright

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Mr Rimsevics has been in charge of the Bank of Latvia since 2001

The head of Latvia’s central bank has been released from police custody on bail as investigators seek to determine whether or not he solicited a bribe.

The country’s anti-corruption agency says Ilmars Rimsevics sought a payment of at least €100,000 (£88,610; $124,128).

He was arrested and questioned on Saturday, and his home and offices were searched.

A lawyer for Mr Rimsevics told the BBC his client denied any wrongdoing.

The Bank of Latvia says it has a “zero tolerance” policy regarding corruption and was cooperating with investigators.

The anti-corruption agency says the criminal investigation is not related to recent concerns about two other Latvian banks.

The US Treasury has accused Latvia’s ABLV Bank of money-laundering. It linked the move against ABLV to wider action aimed at thwarting North Korea’s weapons programme.

Norvik Banka is meanwhile in dispute with the Latvian authorities over alleged unfair regulation.

A businessman, Maris Martinsons, was also detained at the weekend but later released.

Mr Rimsevics was first appointed Bank of Latvia governor in 2001 and is now nearing the end of his third term.

He is also a member of the ECB governing council.

Latvia’s Prime Minister, Maris Kucinskis, chaired an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday. Earlier he said the Rimsevics case did not pose any national threat.

On Sunday, Bank of Latvia said it its operations were unaffected by the investigation.

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