LATVIA looks set to deliver a major blow to Scotland’s secret “tax haven” firms as it cracks down on money-laundering through its banks.
The Baltic state has said that it will ban its financial institutions from providing accounts to anonymously owned shell companies, such as increasingly notorious Scottish limited partnerships or SLPs
The move comes as the UK Government said it too will act on SLPs, which effectively allow their owners to remain secret, pay no taxes and file no accounts.
For some years criminals and tax-avoiders have used SLPs with accounts in Latvia or other Baltic nations to move vast sums of money out of the former Soviet Union.
Latvia stepped up action against its banks – and shell firm abuse – under renewed pressure from the United States.
The European Central Bank in February effectively ordered the closure of one Latvian bank, ABLV, which was linked to North Korean laundering and whose accounts were marketed alongside SLPs.
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Latvia’s finance minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola earlier this month said America believed Latvian banks were still being used to launder money despite a series of scandals.
After a meeting with a US counterpart, she said: “We are being told that banks are still used to transfer funds associated with persons, companies or countries on which sanctions have been imposed.”