News Update


The trial of a murder plot focuses attention on Latvia’s banking system.

A businessman has appeared in court in Latvia in connection with a murder plot trial that could throw light on the country’s opaque banking history.

Mihails Ulmans and his co-defendant Aleksandrs Babenko are accused of paying the assassination of insolvency lawyer Martins Bunkus.

Mr Bunkus is believed to have discovered evidence of money laundering at LPB bank, which Mr Ulmans owns in part.

In 2018, he was assassinated. Both defendants deny any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors claim that Mr Bunkus discovered evidence that the two individuals were involved in money laundering when winding up another firm. He then informed Latvian financial crime watchdogs of his suspicions.

Mr Bunkus survived an aborted assassination attempt in September 2016, but was killed in broad daylight with an assault weapon in rush-hour traffic in May 2018.

According to police sources, his assailants hid a Kalashnikov gun behind a tent on a cargo trailer hauled behind a van. Mr Bunkus’ automobile was hit with at least seven rounds of ammunition.

Mr Ulmans and Mr Babenko were arrested in connection with the crime four years later, in May 2022. They have been detained since then.

Mr Babenko’s lawyers claim that his rights have been infringed by his prolonged detention.

According to the prosecution, the individual who organised Mr Bunkus’s murder was offered €100,000 (£86,850), and the killer was promised €200,000.

A third individual, a Russian national, is under trial for the murder.

The three men will be tried by a judge alone, as is customary in Latvia.

On the first day of the trial, which ended on Saturday, the defendants appeared in court by video link from prison.

Mr Ulmans has investments in a variety of different economic areas, including duty-free stores in Russian airports and customs warehouses, in addition to his stake in LPB.


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