HSBC hit by Argentine claims over fraudulent transactions

ARGENTINA’S tax agency yesterday accused HSBC of being involved in 392m pesos (£50.9m) of fraudulent transactions in the south American country over the last three years.

Argentine tax collectors Afip asked the courts to look into the possibility the banking giant has evaded tax or laundered money.

This comes as HSBC is still reeling from a $1.9bn fine levied over alleged irregularities in transactions across Mexico and the US.

“On the basis of what’s been investigated so far, in six months we’ve recorded 392m pesos in fraudulent transactions, generated by evasion and money laundering,” Afip boss Ricardo Echegaray said. “We hope to recover what is due and see the courts apply an appropriate penalty.”

HSBC boss Stuart Gulliver last month told the Banking Commission, made up of MPs and peers, that the banking behemoth’s complex structure and geographical sprawl had made it vulnerable to criminal activity. HSBC could not be immediately contacted for comment late last night.

Despite fresh troubles in the Eurozone, HSBC shares were effectively flat yesterday, ending the day at 720.2p, up from 720.1p.

This latest action comes after a year of scandal for banks, which has seen Standard Chartered fined $327m to settle allegations it violated trade sanctions on Iran. Barclays, RBS and UBS were all clobbered with fines totalling in the hundreds of millions of pounds for their traders’ attempts to fix the key Libor interest rate.

And all of the big four UK consumer banks have had to make billions of pounds of provisions to settle claims relating to mis-selling of payment protection insurance.