HSBC in the News from Argentina to France

1. HSBC has specifically targeted Argentina

In an interview with the Buenos Aires Herald, John Christensen, head of the Tax Justice Network, an international advocacy group formed by researchers and activists, said Argentina was one of the key countries targeted by HSBC to evade taxes through its Swiss branch. At the same time, he warned about the lobbying power of the bank to try to avoid being prosecuted and called for more rules to regulate banks.

A recent investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) showed Argentina ranked high both in the funds and the number of accounts held in Switzerland. What are the reasons behind that?

HSBC has been using its Geneva branch to target specific countries and high-wealth individuals in those countries to convince them to use that specific branch. Argentina is one of those countries because there’s a high concentration of wealthy people there who for many decades have been engaged in tax evasion using offshore structures in Uruguay or in the Caiman Islands. HSBC and other banks have been encouraging their Argentine clients lately to use Switzerland instead of Uruguay, which has become a less safe destination for tax evasion.

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2. Nina Ricci perfumes heiress found guilty in HSBC tax fraud case

A Paris court on Monday found the heiress of the Nina Ricci perfume and fashion business guilty of tax fraud in a high-profile trial prompted by leaked lists of people who used the services of HSBC bank in Switzerland.

Arlette Ricci, 73-year-old granddaughter of Nina Ricci, was sentenced to three years in jail, including two suspended, and ordered to pay a fine of 1 million euros ($1.05 million) in a verdict read out by a judge at a criminal court.

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3. HSBC Facing Criminal Investigation in French Tax Case

The British bank HSBC said on Thursday that it had been placed under formal criminal investigation by French magistrates examining whether its Swiss private bank assisted wealthy clients to avoid taxes.

Investigating magistrates in France have been conducting an inquiry into whether HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) helped individuals avoid their tax-reporting requirements from 2006 to 2007.

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