Cashpoints emptied

Twitter rumour sparks $54 million ATM frenzy at Swedbank

Swedbank customers in Latvia have withdrawn much more money than was previously stated. The bank now says over 370 million kronor or $US 54 million has been taken out since Friday.

Over the weekend, after a rumour in Latvia that the Swedish bank Swedbank was close to bankruptcy, customers there began taking out all of their money, Swedish Radio News reports. By 9 p.m. Sunday evening, about a third of all the cash points in Latvia had run out of money.

The Latvian Prime Minister said the rumour spreading was an attempt "to destabilize the country".

But according to Swedbank, which is the biggest bank in Latvia, the rumours - which seem to have started on social media sites - are completely unfounded. People were told that Swedbank customers in Sweden cannot take out their money, and that the head of the Latvian bank had been arrested, none of which is correct.

The Latvian Prime Minister Dombrovskis told reporters in Riga on Monday that the rumours have been spread with the intention to destabilize the country. The Latvian intelligence service is now investigating the rumours, which are a criminal offence in Latvia.

On Sunday evening, representatives of the Swedish, as well as the Latvian Finance Inspectorate, appeared on Latvian television to try to calm the situation. On Monday, representatives of the Swedish National Bank as well as the Financial inspectorate confirmed to Swedish news agency TT that the rumours are completely unfounded.

Juris Kaza at the Latvian news agency LETA told Swedish Radio News that people are nervous in Latvia after a Latvian bank went bust a couple of weeks ago. The Latvian central bank took over that failed bank.