OREANDA-NEWS. December 17, 2013. The leaders of Rietumu Bank conducted a briefing for journalists from Russian business papers on last Friday in Moscow.

Among the key topics, in which the representatives of the press were interested, were urgent questions about the entrance of Latvia to the eurozone, lessons and consequences of the world crisis, as well as the influence of the Cyprian financial crisis on the banking system of Latvia.

Alexander Gafin, Rietumu Supervisory Council member, Alexander Pankov, President of Rietumu Bank, and Renat Lokomet, Member of the Board, took part in the briefing.

As noted by Mr Pankov, the adoption of the euro in Latvia starting 1 January, 2014, will be the important and final stage of European integration of Latvia and a supplementary guarantee of stability. This step will undoubtedly encourage the attraction of foreign investments to the economy of Latvia.

He particularly noted that the situation in Latvia today is much more favourable than predicted by many experts just a while ago – according to the rate of development, Latvia is in ‘the advance party’ of the European Union. The President of Rietumu Bank is convinced that the prospects for the economy of Latvia remain quite good, and the next year for his country will also be favourable.

Answering the questions about the condition of the global markets after the experience of the recent crisis, Alexander Pankov said that this time people have managed to learn lessons and take measures that will allow the speed of moving down during the next declining phase to be lowered in the future. “The essential changes have been made in the legislation, the fundamental regulation of the banking sector has been increased, measures to make the credit process more controlled have been taken,” he emphasised.

Alexander Gafin in turn, answering questions from the representatives of Russian MSM about the influence of the Cyprian financial crisis on the banking sector in Latvia, admitted that this event has created a persistent wave of interest from clients of Cyprian banks. “Using the example of Rietumu Bank I can tell that the number of our clients was steadily growing before the Cyprian crisis too. But after the notorious Cyprian events, capital owners, including of Russian origin, are for obvious reasons actively seeking a reliable alternative for the investment of funds. It is well known that many of them have chosen Latvia. This wave, by the way, hasn’t fallen down up to now.”

A topic about Russian investments in Latvia has been raised. It is commonly known that over the last few years many Russians have bought real property in this country and invested in the capital stock of lending institutions receiving a residence permit in the European Union as a result. According to Deloitte estimates, due to this programme 780 million euros have been attracted to the economy of Latvia over three and a half years.

As noted by Renat Lokomet, Member of the Board, a growing number of Russians that have received a residence permit in Latvia are not simply using this status as an ‘entrance ticket’ to the Schengen Area, but are moving to Riga and its suburbs for more or less permanent residence. “Many people are transferring their business to Latvia or starting a business here, notably the size is very different – from large-scale enterprises specialising in the through haulage, logistics, and food industry to private cafes and restaurants and other businesses in the services sector.”