HSBC accused by Argentina of tax evasion and money laundering
Argentina’s tax agency formally accused the local unit of British banking giant HSBC Holdings Plc. of conspiracy to hide bank accounts, thereby helping private companies evade tax payments and launder money.
During a press on Monday Argentina’s tax chief Ricardo Echegaray, reported that the London-based Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) has been involved in money laundering operations for a total of 392 million pesos, as well in tax evasion manoeuvres for 224 million pesos, all within a period of six months.
The head of the AFIP tax agency, explained that after performing a series of raids, the agency detected “false invoices used for money laundering and fraudulent manoeuvres which were performed to evade taxes for tens of millions of pesos.”
”An example is the behaviour of the HSBC Bank that provided deposit-collection services to companies involved in the use of false invoices for nonexistent operations. The deposits were made in an account associated with a generic CUIT number (tax registry number), which was exempt from taxes to bank accounts debits and credits, and whose movements were deliberately hidden”, Echegaray told reporters.
On February first Etchegaray announced that AFIP would file a “fiscal fraud” lawsuit against a very important international bank which was not then identified or did they specify the type of evasion detected.
At that time, Echegaray had limited himself to saying that the AFIP had detected a “situation of fiscal fraud” and that during January a judge ordered an investigation of the banking entity, allowing it to be searched and its records examined.
“We believe that these illegal acts involve not only the bank’s credit and debit tax records but also VAT value-added tax,” said Echegaray.
Federal Judge Javier Lopez Biscayart of the tax crimes court in Buenos Aires has received the agency’s file against the bank, Echegaray said.
“The allegations made by regulators in Argentina are of great concern,” Lyssette Bravo, an HSBC spokeswoman for Latin America, said in an e-mailed response. “We are committed to working cooperatively with authorities to ensure a thorough review and appropriate resolution of the matter.”