ABLV owners to liquidate bank to protect assets and clients

FILE PHOTO: A logo of the ABLV Bank is pictured in Riga, Latvia February 18, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The owners of Latvia's ABLV Bank, accused by U.S. authorities of large-scale money laundering, have decided to liquidate the lender after the European Central Bank said on Saturday it would be wound up, ABLV told Reuters on Monday.

Main owners Ernests Bernis and Olegs Fins, who each hold stakes of 43.5 percent, believe liquidation is the best way ensure the protection of its assets and to carry out payments to clients, Bernis said in an emailed statement.

"Taking into account the previous insolvency and liquidation processes in Latvia, (we) think this is the best decision possible," Bernis, who is ABLV's chairman, said. "It is a very tough decision to make, but the most appropriate in the given circumstances."

ABLV said it would give more details about the decision on Tuesday.

The privately-owned bank, which has sizable deposits from foreign clients, many from Russia and Ukraine, was accused by the U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network this month of large-scale money laundering. That led to a liquidity squeeze and the ECB's decision this weekend to shut it down. [nL8N1QD55Y]

ABLV denies the accusations.

(Reporting by Gederts Gelzis; Writing by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Catherine Evans)