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Baltic International Bank receives BBB+ financial crime compliance rating, with a positive outlook

Sigma Ratings, a New York-based rating agency, assigned BBB+ financial crime compliance (FCC) rating to Baltic International Bank placing it among industry leaders. Sigma’s report also noted that the bank’s outlook is positive. Sigma Ratings reviewed Baltic International Bank’s inherent risk environment and control effectiveness around FCC. The review included FCC factors specific to AML, CFT, sanctions, and aspects of other non-credit risk issues such as geo-political risk and national-level regulatory proficiency. Chairperson of the Management Board, Baltic International Bank, Viktors Bolbats told: “We are truly delighted by the positive assessment of the renowned rating agency Sigma Ratings as it demonstrates that our hard work and increased investment in the area of fighting against financial crimes have paid off.  Baltic International Bank firmly believes that privately owned banks need to shape a sustainable business model with the underlying corporate governance principles and transparency in all actions, including the fight against criminal crimes.”   Some of Baltic International Bank’s key strengths, according to the Sigma Rating report, include its increased investment in compliance, both in headcount and technology, as well as sophisticated transaction monitoring system (TMS) with a comprehensive list of detection scenario rules. Baltic International Bank has advanced controls in place in order to mitigate against financial crime.   Baltic International Bank deserves credit for embracing transparency and investing in its financial crime control environment.  The rating speaks to a relatively strong control environment and an engaged management team that recognize the importance of proactive risk management across all three lines of defenseStuart Jones, Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Sigma Ratings     In light of the overall situation faced by the sector, in 2018 Baltic International Bank invested money towards enhancing professional qualification of its employees and their expertise in the fight against financial crimes in accordance with international standards. For instance, all of the employees involved in implementing the Know Your Customer (KYC) and Know Your Customer’s Partner (KYCP) principles have undergone an in-depth AML/CFT training. The Bank has revised AML/CFT policy and related procedures and implemented new amendments requested by regulator. The Ministry of Finance (MF) and the State Revenue Service (SRS) have admitted Baltic International Bank to Gold Level of the In-depth Cooperation Programme or so-called SRS White List, thereby acknowledging the transparency of operations as well as tax compliance discipline.   About Sigma Ratings Sigma Ratings, Inc. (“Sigma”) is a New York-based firm pioneering a technology-driven approach to assess governance and financial crime risk at the entity level. Sigma evaluates entities on non-credit risks, including financial crime compliance, governance, sanctions, corruption and reputation. Sigma’s methodologies are based on industry best practice that have been developed in consultation with the public and private sector. Sigma’s ratings are also reviewed by an independent Rating Committee before issuance. Sigma regularly presents to U.S. regulators and regulators around the world for further feedback and ideas. Sigma’s leadership team includes professionals with more than 100 years of combined experience, including deep domain expertise on counter illicit finance-related matters as senior U.S. Government, legal and development finance experts. Company clients include financial institutions and investment firms, multinational companies, insurance firms and governments in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

The Bank’s performance results demonstrate a positive trend

In Q4 2018, the Bank’s financial performance surpassed the cumulative financial result gained over the first three quarters of 2018. For the Bank, the 2018 was a busy one and its main features were Bank-specific changes and optimisation efforts. The Bank’s senior management successfully implemented its cost-optimisation and income-boosting plan. The total customer funds reached EUR 499 million. By the end of 4Q 2018, the assets under management totalled EUR 74.34 million.  The volume of financial instruments in brokerage service has also shown a positive. The Bank continues to contribute to its new business strategy geared towards customers who display investment needs and possess the investment potential. At present, the situation in the financial sector, both in Latvia and worldwide, is quite challenging. To achieve the Bank’s strategic goal, namely, to become a sustainable investment bank and continue as a stable business partner for its customers in the Baltic States and Europe, the Bank should work in two directions. Firstly, we ourselves need to perform maximally effectively and efficiently. We have invested towards developing new digital infrastructure and towards developing and implementing investment services, including arrangement of corporate bonds issue and improvement of customer service. Our second direction envisages a purposeful cooperation with public bodies and the Finance Latvia Association. We intend to attain, through a common dialogue, stringent conformity of the Latvian financial sector with international standards and to restore the country’s reputation and stability. One more task of paramount importance is to maintain a close relationship with our customers in Latvia and in foreign markets and hence ensure an ongoing provision 0f top-quality services. The Bank’s business-related strategic principles remain unchanged: we intend to ensure appropriate, compliant and transparent performance and to provide bespoke banking services while staying focused on sustainable investments-based approach. Viktors Bolbats Chairperson of the Management Board   In the light of the overall situation faced by the sector, Bank firmly believes that Latvia-based banks need to shape a sustainable business model with the underlying corporate governance principles, including the fight against financial crimes. In 2018, Baltic International Bank invested money towards enhancing professional qualification of its employees and their expertise in the fight against financial crimes in accordance with international standards. For instance, all of the employees involved in implementing the Know Your Customer (KYC) and Know Your Customer`s Partner (KYCP) principles have undergone an in-depth AML/CFT training. The Bank has also made relevant amendments to its AML/CFT policy and related procedures. In 4Q 2018, the Bank’s operating income totalled EUR 14.88 million. Compared to 2017, Bank succeeded to close the year 2018 with a higher operating income and more lenient operating expense. The Bank has increased its fee and commission income in a skyrocketing manner. The percentage of the net fee and commission income surged up to 56.9 percent compared to the same period last year when the net fee and commission income totalled 25.6 percent. The net interest income totalled 24.1 percent. The volume of administrative expenses totalled EUR 13.39 million. The Bank's senior management succeeded to combine cost optimisation and income boosting and hence achieve perceptible effectiveness and to explore and pinpoint possibilities for investing in the Bank’s development and improving customer service. The Bank made impressive progress towards gaining larger amount of fee and commission income for customer service, investment services, brokerage services and asset management services. Still, the Bank’s balance sheet remains conservative, and the Bank maintains the high liquidity ratio. The liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) was 247 percent. The net stable funding ratio (NSFR), characterizing the availability of a stable funding profile in relation to the composition of assets and off-balance sheet activities, reached 153.6 percent. The Bank’s high-quality liquid assets (assets carrying investment-grade credit rating and balances due from the Bank of Latvia) made up EUR 159.40 million or 56 percent of the total assets. Investments in government bonds accounted for EUR 17.5 million or 6.1 percent of the total assets. The Bank maintains a well-diversified structure of liquid assets represented by bonds (13 percent), due from credit institutions (7 percent), due from the Bank of Latvia (79 percent) and cash (1 percent). As of 31 December 2018, the Bank’s own funds totalled EUR 24.39 million. The Bank’s Tier I capital ratio (CETI) was 9.63 percent. The total SREP ratio (TSCR ratio) reached 13.70 percent. As the Bank continues to support Latvian literature and its development, it implemented a project titled “Library” in 4Q 2018. The project aims to educate the public regarding the importance of literature in people’s lives and to tell people about private libraries and collections held in private libraries, as well as emotional and educational attributes of the collections. The project involves Latvian literati and other active shapers of the literary life in Latvia. Baltic International Bank organised creative works competition aimed at school students. The Ērgļi high school was the first place winner and won the top prize, 100 books for their school library. The renowned jury that included a brilliant Latvian writer Nora Ikstena evaluated the student works. The Bank’s employees brought a plenty of books, and the Bank donated them to People’s Bookshelf (Tautas grāmatu plaukts) located in the atrium of the National Library of Latvia. Thus, the Bank has excelled itself by placing a strong emphasis on one of the Bank’s core values, namely, SUCCESSION. Books offer a unique opportunity to preserve legacy and pass on fundamental values to the next generations. To implement the Bank’s long-term plans, create a convenient environment for its employees and customers and foster its sustainability, the Bank launched an ambitious refurbishment and regeneration of the Old Riga quarter situated between Kalēju Street and Vecpilsētas Square. Within the 5-year timeframe, the Bank intends to allocate nearly EUR 12 million towards the project. During the first phase of the project, the Bank will provide its employees with modern workplace premises. During the second phase, the Bank will offer the local businesspeople premises for business development. Largely due to its business model and string adherence to corporate governance principles, sustainable business principles and socially responsible initiatives, in 2018 Baltic International Bank received the Gold Award from the annual Sustainability Index and the Family-Friendly Company Status. The Bank’s (Group’s) key financial indicators:   31.12.2018 30.09.2018 Assets: EUR 287,28 million (EUR 287,27 million) EUR 272,34 million (EUR 272,09 million) Value of financial instruments in brokerage: EUR 178 million EUR 199 million Loss: EUR 305 thousand (EUR 498 thousand) EUR 2,35 million (EUR 2,55 million) Liquidity ratio: 76,33% 72,96%   FULL FINANCIAL REPORT FOR THE PERIOD ENDED 31 december 2018  

Valeri Belokon: The existence of our nation in 200 years depends on literature

Valeri Belokon, the main shareholder of Baltic International Bank and the long-standing patron of Latvian literature, who also supports the current project ‘Library’ aimed at promoting reading, believes that the existence of the literary industry is of great importance for our entire nation. Preserving literature, we preserve the Latvian culture and language. What do we leave behind, apart from language? We leave the thoughts of our people. If we lose the word, we lose the thought. Books should be published to enable us to keep a big, complete, philosophical thought.Valeri Belokon   In the seventh interview in a series of video stories within the framework of the ‘Library’ project, Valeri Belokon gives a peek into his private library and tells about his personal motivation prompting him to provide support. The books have everything that we need for our life and for the life of our soul,’ he says. ‘Support to literature is my vocation and the voice of my heart. A person can support literature only if he or she understands it and needs it. It is not that literature goes with hat in hand.Valeri Belokon   The patron also expresses his views on the role of literature in the preservation of the Latvian language. ‘We are in a situation where we need to maintain our language and culture. I believe that this is what we are doing at the moment and what definitely have to keep doing.’ In an interview with Baltic International Bank, the main shareholder points out, through laughter and, at the same time, very seriously, that all the answers to questions can be found in books. ‘Nowadays, people think that Google has all the answers, but I have to disappoint them by saying that this is actually not true. Books provide all the answers,’ he says. Watch full interview The full interview with Valeri Belokon is available on the home page of the ‘Library’ project at There you can also find six other interviews published before: with writers Nora Ikstena and Māris Bērziņš, Zbigņevs Stankēvičs, metropolitan archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church, Andris Vilks, director of the National Library of Latvia (NLL), Kārina Pētersone, director of the Latvian National Library Support Society, and Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former president of Latvia. In the coming months, it is also planned to publish an interview with Uldis Bērziņš, poet and translator, Imants Lancmanis, Latvian art historian and heraldry specialist, and Sanita Stinkule, head of the Department of Ethnography of the National History Museum of Latvia. The project ‘Library’ has been created by Baltic International Bank, a long-standing patron of Latvian literature. The ‘Library’ initiative proposes to tell stories about the importance of literature in people’s lives, stories about personal libraries, their content, emotional and professional value. The development of Latvian literature is one of the long-term public support endeavours of Baltic International Bank. Believing that knowledge of culture and history of one's country is the basis of the national identity of each nation, Baltic International Bank financially supports the publishing of books of national importance and implementation of literary projects.

Baltic International Bank embarks on developing new internet banking facility while implementing new technological solutions

Some of the biggest challenges financial service companies face today are a shift towards modern digital opportunities and implementation of relevant solutions. Committed to providing greater convenience for the users, Baltic International Bank (Bank) has embarked on launching an improved version of its internet banking facility. The users will benefit from functionality and security enhancements and a broader array of services. The upgraded internet banking will represent a platform for launching new products and services in the future. Bank is developing the new digital infrastructure solution in liaison with ETRONIKA the leading fintech company in the Baltic States. Bank is planning to invest around one million euros in improving the internet banking facility. Bank has already finished the first phase of the project. In June 2019, Bank will give its customers access to test the features of the first version. At the end of summer, Bank will be gradually rolling out the new internet-banking version to all customers. The transition will run until October 2019. In October, Bank will make the new facility available to all customers. Highly competitive environment in the financial sector spurs us to respond quickly to situations, be innovative and take a strategic approach to decision-making. We therefore continuously develop digital channels and invest in our infrastructure. This is vital to ensure convenient and qualitative services for our customers. New technological solutions are conducive to increasing the value of the services offered by Bank. We will launch the internet banking through combined efforts of the sector professionals and after having explored usage patterns of our customers. The internet banking will enable the customers to obtain only useful and really necessary information, save time and plan finances better and make their investments and other financial deals in a timely manner while being 100-percent sure about safety and security of their data and money.Guntars Reidzāns, Member of the Management Board at Baltic International Bank   The envisaged improvements will also foster preparation of financial statements and execution of transactions in an easy and convenient way that in turn will enhance customer service experience. Bank will also make changes in the internet banking design. As Bank keeps up with and stays on top of emerging technology trends, it specifically focuses on a responsive design created to fit better various digital devices used by the customers. Thus, every user will be able to personalize the main screen by selecting the most current information and to adjust the background of the internet bank according to individual preferences. We place customer convenience and security at the heart of everything we do. A unified dashboard showing the accounts and products, a convenient internet banking navigation, and an improved OneSpan mobile Digipass solution that will allow authenticate the cardholder and authorise transactions by employing push notification to mobile phone will improve user’s experience overall. Bank is also improving already implemented AML system’s settings. In an effort to heighten Bank’s safety and security and maximise customer convenience, Bank will enable its customers to complete MiFID questionnaires and Know Your Customer (KYC) questionnaires in the Internet-banking environment (customer profile section).Jānis Osis, Head of the Digital Channels Development at Baltic International Bank   ETRONIKA, a Lithuania-based fintech company having almost 20 years of experience in the Baltic financial services sector, is the project’s developer. The company developed and offered innovative digital solutions with an emphasis on security and customer convenience. Regular improvements are very necessary. Developments and opportunities in digital environment come along with new threats. In highly regulated industries, we must also take into consideration ever-changing regulations and legislative updates. By improving digital interaction, we will make the internet banking platform more efficient and more user-friendly. As a result, both Bank and its customers will enjoy new opportunities.Arnoldas Jankūnas, the Chief Executive Officer at „ETRONIKA”   Innovative solutions designed specifically for payment processing will substantially boost the internet banking usage experience and will reduce the amount of time required for carrying out the activities involved. The new internet banking will enable the customers to ensure a multilevel signing of payments and a multilevel approval of applications. Bank has implemented instant payments, and customers can select them from the list of the beneficiaries. To process several payments in a quick and convenient manner, Bank has implemented batch processing functionality (or import of bulk payments) and export related to the generation of account statements, simultaneous approval of several payments, and a smart payment form that adapts itself depending on the customer-posted information. Even better communication with Bank, as provided by private banker, is available for the customers within just a ‘clickable distance’. The development of the new internet banking is only a part of the innovations that are underway. In the near future, Bank will roll out solutions such as instant payments, open banking (a platform-based business approach), investments and investment products available on the investment menu, and other solutions designed to enhance customer service experience.   About ETRONIKA ETRONIKA is award winning Nordic FinTech company, offering digital platforms for finance and retail sectors, digital and mobile signature, mobile payments, digital services for point-of-sales terminals and other services. Company is based in Vilnius, Lithuania and is a part of NRD Companies. NRD Companies – a global information technology and consulting group of companies specialized in governance and economic digital infrastructure development. NRD Companies are controlled by INVL Technology UTIB – NASDAQ Vilnius listed closed-end investment in IT Businesses Company. INVL Technology managed companies operate as a cluster and implement joint projects in more than 50 countries worldwide. BANKTRON is award winning smart e-channels platform which enables financial institutions to deliver seamlessly financial services across various devices.

Baltic International Bank has been Admitted to the Gold Level of the White List Maintained by the SRS and the MF

The Ministry of Finance (MF) and the State Revenue Service (SRS) have admitted Baltic International Bank to the Gold Level of the In-depth Cooperation Programme (Padziļinātās sadarbības programma) or so-called SRS White List, thereby acknowledging the transparency of operations as well as tax compliance discipline. The In-depth Cooperation Programme of the State Revenue Service has been improved this year to promote a closer and more efficient cooperation with responsible taxpayers. ‘Baltic International Bank is committed to responsible and transparent business conduct. In our work, we rely on the ESG (Environmental. Social. Governance) approach, where Governance (corporate management) is one of the main blocks. Baltic International Bank pays special attention to the principles of corporate governance, ensuring compliance with Latvian and international legal norms and timely payment of national taxes. Therefore, we welcome the Gold status granted by the MF and the SRS, which was awarded by evaluating the Bank's economic performance, the amount of taxes paid and a number of other criteria’, says Alon Nodelman, Member of the Management Board and Chief Financial Officer of Baltic International Bank. The sustainability and corporate responsibility of Baltic International Bank is evidenced by the gold award from the Sustainability Index received by the Bank for the second year in a row. The information published by the SRS shows that the In-depth Cooperation Programme or the White List is designed to promote a closer and more efficient cooperation with responsible taxpayers. Since 1 January 2019, participants of the In-depth Cooperation Programme are admitted to one of three levels: Gold, Silver and Bronze, depending on the volume of business. All companies are assessed on the basis of 15 key criteria to qualify for participation in the programme. Additional criteria apply to grouping, and they are different for each level. The Gold level currently comprises 79 companies. More information on the SRS website, in the section Padziļinātās sadarbības programma (In-depth Cooperation Programme).

Information for the clients of Baltic International Bank representative office in United Kingdom

This is to inform you that our United Kingdom-based representative office discontinued operating on 29 January 2019. Baltic International Bank customers wish to receive most suitable, convenient, qualitative and easily accessible banking services. Moreover, this is becoming increasingly important for them. Keeping track of customer behavioral change and developing remote digital solutions, we have created the conditions that enable us to deliver professional and customer-centric service. Thus, we have minimised the need to visit Bank’s representative office in person. Baltic International Bank offers a convenient opportunity to remotely obtain information and make your financial transactions by using Internet Banking as well as by giving orders to your personal banker over the telephone or via email. Your private bankers are always ready to help you to get your financial matters in good order. We’ll be glad to meet you at our head office in Riga and our representative office in Kyiv.

Expertise today, services tomorrow - Guntars Reidzāns

Expert opinion: Guntars Reidzāns, Member of the Management Board of Baltic International Bank In business as well as in the labour market there are more and more people who know their way around modern technologies since childhood. Remote access to services with the help of technology makes their work easier and saves time. People increasingly travel both for business and private affairs, and many people constantly live outside the city; therefore, convenient and accessible management of business and personal finances is becoming increasingly relevant.     There is no doubt that these trends will become even more pronounced in the nearest future. According to forecasts, in 2025, about 75% of the working-age population will be the so-called ‘millennials’ born at the end of the last century. The key trait of this generation is the need to receive information and services immediately regardless of time and place. Representatives of this generation also expect immediate feedback, so remote service is an integral part of their daily life. However, not only this generation continuously studies and uses modern technologies using the Internet and actively communicates via computers and smartphones. The results of the research performed by Kantar TNS Latvia Digital this spring show that, on average, 70% or 1.1 mln residents of Latvia aged 15-74 use smartphones which implies high availability and use of technology in different age groups of the Latvian society. According to the results of the ‘Baltic International Bank Latvian Barometer’ survey, today, work of 69% of employed respondents is related to the use of technologies. The largest share of such people (85%) falls on the age group from 35 to 44, i.e. people who have already built their careers. The willingness of people to learn new technologies in their workplace is also very high – 68% of respondents would like to do that. In accordance with these trends, the banking sector in Latvia is constantly expanding the range of services, adding the remote services, which do not require visiting bank branches. In developing new solutions, the banking sector takes into account not only new technological options and customer wishes but also changes in customer habits when receiving services. The demand for such services has been also observed in the global financial market where, for instance, robo-advisory or automatic algorithm-based digital platforms for various financial solutions are very popular. Financial institutions keep up with the times and create modern, convenient and transparent internet banking, develop mobile bank solutions and digital communication channels, allow customers to remotely monitor the deposit portfolio status, convert currency, etc., while providing secure remote identification. This allows customers to open accounts remotely and receive expert advice, including consultations during which confidential information is analysed. However, new technologies do not imply abandoning face-to-face relationship between customers and service providers. They can rather help increase the value of the services offered. This is especially important for banks, including Baltic International Bank, in the business models of which individual customer service plays an important role. That is why we intensively adapt our products to the digital environment and introduce new technologies and communication channels, such as audio and video consultations using such applications as Skype which allows getting the required information or advice at the right time and place simultaneously maintaining the necessary direct contact with a specialist. It is predicted that as the capital market develops in Latvia, the volume of investments in various financial instruments will grow. For instance, in the Scandinavian countries, investments are currently being made by approximately ¾ of bank customers, while in Latvia this proportion is exactly the opposite. However, it can be said with confidence that only with a significant increase in the understanding of the capital market in Latvia will the people be ready to invest personal funds in complex instruments more actively. This will respectively increase the need for banking specialist consultations and technical solutions such as the aforementioned remote consultations. In fact, we are talking about a significant change in the habits of the population not only in the field of investment but also in the financial sector as a whole, and impressive changes are expected in the future. The Latvian Barometer, for instance, has measured the attitude of the Latvian population on one important issue – the option of being given advice by artificial intelligence. Currently, 78% of respondents in Latvia prefer that a decision is made by a human financial advisor rather than by software – this is the current reality that needs to be taken into account. But reality is changing before our eyes, and in order to maintain and develop competitiveness, the banking industry must keep this in mind in its daily work and decision-making. There are few cases in history when discoveries and radical innovations were lapped up. It takes time for people to realise that new technologies help save time and simplify service. In addition, each customer’s problem with which he or she turns for expert advice is special and very individual; therefore, customers prefer communicating with a human being to receiving a standard reply via digital channels. That is why, strategically thought out and balanced decisions in the field of personal finance are of paramount importance. At the moment, the bank is the main expert in financial innovations for customers, and they know that it has the experience and knowledge to help them make the right decisions quickly. In this regard, financial institutions should at least sometimes provide expertise to today's customers as well as actively work on the services that tomorrow's customers will need. Nowadays, universal banks motivate their customers to receive advice mainly remotely or automatically. Similar opportunities are also offered by financial institutions focused on individual financial services but customers are still at liberty to either contact their private bankers through digital solutions or get advice on the spot. Banks will retain personalised services and customer-friendly solutions while modern technological solutions will make them more accessible in the digital environment, maintaining impeccable quality and improved delivery speed.  

Viktors Bolbats: the Latvian banking business undergoes vast, actually unveiling and promising transformations

The year 2018 marked the momentous changes for the Latvian banking sector, specifically in the service of local customers. In Latvia, banks have intensified their efforts to acquire new customers from the member countries of the EU and the EEA. To entice clientele, the banks offer them asset management services with good prospects for growth ahead. However, standard banking services are becoming increasingly important. To offer those services, the banks develop and use new channels for reaching their target customers. The deposit structure has undergone drastic changes. Domestic deposits and deposits held by EU-based customers account for 90% of the sector-wide deposits. For a number of financial professionals, including the key management personnel of Baltic International Bank, the need for the changes became obvious many years ago. Some of the banks decided not to delay in implementing the changes. After having gone through a very tough transition period, just those banks will be among the first ones who will feel the positive impact of the reforms, according to projections. For instance, the shareholders and the Supervisory Board of Baltic International Bank made a whole series of relevant decisions already in 2016. A consistent implementation of those decisions changed Bank’s priorities, business pattern and orientations for the future. We adopted our new strategy at that point in time. We continue to adhere strictly to the strategy. Thereafter, the Supervisory Board, the Management Board and the key management personnel underwent a major reshuffling. To succeed in implementing the new strategy, we hired professionals whose experience enables Bank to diversify its services and broaden service offerings. Many Latvian banks decided to switch over to new business model. Along with the provision of services to international customers, the banks largely focus on individuals and small and mid-range businesses in Latvia. We combine those services with private banking, which involves providing personalised services to our customers, while using a wealth of experience gained. In Latvia, we are implementing a model already successfully used in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other European countries. It is clear that banks cannot provide private banking services on a mass scale. However, the situation has changed and now we are offering banking services to a wider range of clientele. There is now much greater awareness of investment products and benefits of investing amongst the public. The growing awareness fosters the implementation of the model. The markets wherein Latvian banks operate also are at the centre of the changes. For instance, we intend to maintain our presence in the traditional foreign markets such as EU Member States, as well as the United Kingdom and Ukraine. We have our representative office in London (UK) and Kyiv (Ukraine). I would like to emphasise that plenty of Latvian enterprises currently see development opportunities in Ukraine. Those enterprises actively establish or expand their businesses in Ukraine. World-renowned brands use their Latvia-based representative offices in order to launch their businesses in Ukraine. Bank is well able to help businesspeople by offering its knowledge, experience and contact points. I have already previously mentioned that all banks, which share similar business principles and understanding of transactions, currently view Latvia, other Baltic States and EU/EEA countries as priority markets. Regardless of a quite severe competition, it is still possible to find a vacant niche in the market. Latvia-based small and mid-range businesses represent an unoccupied niche. Previously, large banks have not always showed their interest towards those businesses. To work with the new customers successfully, it is essential to offer them services they really need (for example, we have embarked on issuing corporate bonds) and to ensure that the rates and fees are made accessible to a broad clientele. Businesspeople reap the benefits of competition among banks, especially in Latvia. The year 2018 has not been an easy one in many ways. The volume of foreign deposits shrank from EUR 9 billion to nearly EUR 3.2 billion. In these challenging circumstances, every single bank needs to find new ways of working. The Finance Latvia Association’s accomplishments prove conducive to the transformation and change management. As a Co-chair of the Strategic Development Committee of the Finance Latvia Association, I attach paramount importance to the opportunity to be a negotiating partner of the Cabinet, the Ministry of Finance and the Financial and Capital Market Commission during the transformation process. I also highly appreciate the opportunity to delve into the details of the decisions and solutions and hence plan further activity of the banking sector. The changeover period has been too short. We therefore cannot right now judge in broader terms about the profitability of each new business model. I agree with the viewpoints that have emerged regarding the results of the changes: we will get the clear picture after 2 to 3 years. Currently, we may conclude that the direction is right, the changes are quite drastic and deep, the events are reasonably encouraging, and we hope that the sector will be able to respond successively to the new challenges.

Audacious changes: that’s what I call progress - Viktor Bolbat

“Revolutionary changes always inherently accompany the evolution of life. The evolution of banking, to be more specific.  Indeed, the industry is undergoing sweeping changes. Yet, they look more like a reform. We are not breaking anything to stick to the rules of the revolutionary genre. Rather, we are building”, the Chairperson of the Management Board of Baltic International Bank Viktor Bolbat said in his interview to the magazine «Открытый город» (Open City).    “I do not see any reason to worry or fear. Responsibility. That is what I really see. Responsibility towards our customers, employees, shareholders, and the country. Audacious changes: that’s what I call progress”.   Read full interview (RU)  

Baltic International Bank enhances its expertise in combating financial crimes

Baltic International Bank invests in boosting professionalism of the employees and enhancing their expertise in combating financial crimes in accordance with international standards. Anda Saukāne, a member of the Management Board and the Head of the Security Unit of Baltic International Bank, has received the prestigious Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) credential. The CAMS certification is the gold standard in AML examinations. The CAMS credential is the most respected and coveted certification for AML professionals in the industry. Financial institutions, governments and regulatory authorities all over the world recognize and perceive it as a serious commitment to safeguard the financial system from the abuses of financial crime, including money laundering and other illicit activity.  Anda Saukāne, Member of the Management Board of Baltic International Bank  "To foster Bank’s compliance with the highest standards of AML, we have already carried out extensive measures, including the reinforcement of Bank’s internal control system. Bank’s employees involved in implementing the Know Your Customer (KYC) and Know Your Customer`s Partner (KYCP) principles have undergone the in-depth AML/CFT training. Bank has amended its AML/CFT policies and procedures to ensure that they are compliant with the regulatory requirements. CAMS credential is the next step to achieving Bank’s goal, namely, to strengthen Bank’s adherence to international standards and enhance Bank’s transparency."  "The CAMS certification is indicative of that Bank’s team comprises seasoned professionals who are constantly keeping track of the developments in the industry. In the financial services industry, the senior management’s willingness to extend the frontiers of their knowledge is also part of the good governance framework. The terrorism and drug trafficking represent the starkest threat that the society faces. Therefore, the representatives of the financial community carry a great responsibility. The first task is to implement effective control mechanisms and systems aimed at preventing suspicious transactions in a timely manner. The second task is to improve the culture of risk management and risk management tools," Anda Saukāne says. She emphasises that Baltic International Bank actively embarked on those measures in 2016 while implementing Bank’s new strategy. Anda Saukāne has been working for Baltic International Bank since 2012. She performed the duties of a tax policy adviser. She took up the position of the Head of the Information Department in 2013 and the position of the Head of the Security Unit in March 2017.