Argentina and Belgium Accuse HSBC of Aiding Tax Evasion

by Pratap Chatterjee,

Argentina and Belgium have separately accused HSBC bank’s Geneva branch of setting up a network of offshore accounts to help their citizens avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes. The Belgian charges were filed Monday and the Argentine charges were announced Friday.

HSBC, formerly known as Hong Kong & Shanghai Corporation after the city where it was founded in 1865, is now headquartered in the UK, but has 60 million customers across 80 countries with assets of $2.7 trillion. The two countries say that HSBC Private Bank SA in Geneva, Switzerland, provided their citizens with illegal financial services, money laundering and organized tax fraud.

The allegations are apparently based on documents released by Hervé Falciani, a whistleblower and former HSBC employee who was a systems engineer for the bank’s Geneva operations. Falciani supplied the names of 127,000 HSBC clients to tax authorities across Europe and is now being pursued by the Swiss government which has accused him of theft.

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