Britain's HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) department has requested Argentina’s AFIP tax bureau information on the criminal report filed in Buenos Aires against HSBC on allegations the bank helped more than 4,000 clients to evade taxes by stashing their money in secret Swiss bank accounts.
On November 26 last year, the AFIP tax bureau commanded by Ricardo Echegaray filed the complaint against the London-based bank, briefing also the Committee of Budget and Revenue of the Senate and the Lower House, the Economic Criminality and Assets Laundering Office (PROCELAC), the Central Bank and French financing authorities.
By the time the report was filed, Argentina's AFIP said it received the information on the secret accounts from France, which had placed HSBC's Swiss private banking arm under formal investigation for possibly aiding tax evasion.
”We denounce the existence of an illegal platform created by three banking entities (of HSBC) that are operating in Argentina, AFIP head Ricardo Echegaray told a news conference.
Its managers have intervened actively with the sole aim of helping Argentine citizens avoid paying their taxes.”
Argentina's move comes as part of a global crackdown on undeclared funds held in offshore havens, after the global financial crisis strained government budgets and made the need to maximize tax receipts more pressing.
Switzerland has become the world's biggest offshore financial center thanks to strict banking secrecy laws in the Alpine country.
Belgium also charged HSBC Private Bank with tax fraud and money laundering. Stolen personal details of HSBC clients in Switzerland were passed on to Belgian and French authorities in 2010.
Earlier in November 2014, AFIP accused Procter & Gamble, the world's No. 1 household products maker, of tax fraud and said it suspended its operations in Argentina.