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Latvia regains ECB representation after governor's suspension

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Latvia will regain its vote on the European Central Bank’s Governing Council after the central bank governor, facing accusations of accepting a bribe, has finally appointed an alternate, the Bank of Latvia said on Monday.

Ilmars Rimsevics has been barred from office since February, when police briefly detained him and authorities charged him with taking a bribe of at least 100,000 euros, a charge he has repeatedly denied.

The ECB Governing Council is made up of the six ECB executive board members including President Mario Draghi, as well as the governors of the individual central banks of the 19 euro zone member states.

Since only a central bank governor can designate an alternate and Rimsevics has been barred from his duties, Latvia had lost its vote, an embarrassment for the ECB, which even took Latvia to the European court over its move.

Bank of Latvia Deputy Governor Zoja Razmusa has already attended policy meetings this year. His formal designation as an alternate means he can now vote, although the move is largely symbolic since ECB rate-setters rarely vote and most decisions are agreed with a consensus or at least a clear majority.

Rimsevics, who also sued Latvia in the European court, continues to face charges and remains barred from office.

(Reporting by Gederts Gelzis; Writing by Balazs Koranyi)

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