British bank HSBC, charged with helping more than 4,000 Argentines commit tax evasion, will not be able to transfer Argentine funds abroad for 30 days, under a decision announced Monday. 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.
The Argentine Central Bank “decided to temporarily suspend money and asset transfer operations abroad from HSBC Bank Argentina accounts for 30 days,” it said in a statement. AFIP reported that it has identified nearly all 4,040 account holders and says the fraudulent operations were overseen by HSBC representatives in Argentina, the United States and Switzerland.
The central bank added that the sanction could be reduced if HSBC complies with Buenos Aires. The charges are the latest woes for the banking giant, after ex-employee Herve Falciani leaked data to French authorities on thousands of HSBC customers, saying he wanted to expose tax fraud.
The leak sent shockwaves through the world of Swiss banking, long valued by wealthy individuals for its stability and tradition of banking secrecy.