Argentina’s central bank has asked HSBC’s local unit to remove its chief executive and president Gabriel Martino within 24 hours, arguing that the bank failed to establish necessary controls to curb tax evasion and money laundering.
As part of the move, the central bank also cancelled the licenses of Martino as well as of Miguel Angel Estevez, a director.
The central bank accused Martino of not taking necessary measures to mitigate and adequately address the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities.
The bank’s spokeswoman Lyssette Bravo said that HSBC Argentina continues to operate normally in the country.
The bank conforms to the laws and regulations that govern its activity in the country and will continue cooperating with the justice system and regulators, she added.
According to a government presentation released to the media in November 2014, HSBC allegedly aided clients stash assets abroad to avoid paying taxes through shell companies and using legal advisers and lawyers.
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Argentines held as many as 4,000 accounts at HSBC’s Geneva branch, with only about 125 having declared funds, the presentation showed.
Though HSBC rejected the charge, in March 2015 Argentina said it wanted HSBC to repatriate $3.5bn that Argentine tax authorities said the bank had moved offshore.