LONDON: The head of Argentina’s tax authority demanded on Monday that HSBC bring back $3.5 billion (3.2bn euros) in assets claiming the London-based bank helped Argentinian clients move offshore to dodge tax.
Ricardo Echegaray said he expected HSBC “to redress the grievances caused to the finances of Argentina” by allegations revealed in the SwissLeaks scandal.
He was speaking at Argentina’s embassy in London shortly before HSBC’s chief executive Stuart Gulliver appeared in front of a committee of British lawmakers to give evidence about the controversy.
In November, Argentina’s tax agency, AFIP, charged HSBC with helping 4,040 Argentines avoid paying taxes by stashing money in secret Swiss accounts on their behalf.
“We would like to know firstly if HSBC Holdings PLC supported the behaviour of the Argentine branch and secondly, we expect the repatriation of funds by HSBC Holdings PLC that, to our knowledge, amount to $3.5bn,” Echegaray said.
The SwissLeaks scandal broke earlier this year after documents stolen from HSBC in 2007 by a disgruntled bank employee, Herve Falciani, and handed to the French authorities were published in the media.
The cache was used to support claims that HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm helped clients in more than 200 countries evade taxes on accounts containing $119bn.
Argentina’s economy has slowed in the past year, shrinking 0.8 per cent in the last four months of 2014.