Argentina wants HSBC Holdings Plc to repatriate 3.5 billion dollars the bank's Argentine branch moved offshore to help clients evade taxes and move capital abroad, the country's tax chief Ricardo Echegaray said on Monday during a hearing which took place at the House of Commons in London, where top executives of HSBC were present.
Without tax collection, there is no government, there is no public policy, there is no State, that is to say there is no country, he said, according to a copy of the speech Echegaray gave in Argentina's London embassy.
In November Argentina charged HSBC with helping more than 4,000 clients evade taxes by stashing their money in secret Swiss bank accounts. HSBC Argentina rejected the charge, saying it respected Argentine law.
Britain has asked Argentina for information about the country's investigation into HSBC.
Stuart Gulliver, Chief Executive of HSBC Holdings PLC, Rona Fairhead, non-executive director at the bank and Chairwoman of the BBC Trust, and Chris Meares, ex-head and former CEO of the group, all gave testimonies at the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee hearing.
MPs from all political parties rigorously questioned the group’s British executives, who did not accept responsibility for the acts of tax evasion, instead passing responsibility on to the authorities of the banking group’s other branches.
Following the hearing, Ricardo Echegaray and Ambassador Alicia Castro spoke with the Commission’s Labour Chairwoman, Margaret Hodge, who confirmed that she possesses the information regarding the Argentine repercussions of the case. “The bank carried out a tax evasion operation of industrial scale”, she stated.
The head of the AFIP held a press conference at the Argentine Ambassador’s Official Residence during which he informed the British media that AFIP is demanding the repatriation of 3.5 billion dollars belonging to the accounts of Argentine citizens which are suspected to have been moved to Switzerland by HSBC in order to evade taxes.