HSBC: the world’s
local naughtiest bank?
The Lagarde list, a leaked document containing the names of thousands of people with secret bank accounts at HSBC Switzerland, continues to cause problems for the global banking giant.
So far, HSBC has already received an indictment in France for money laundering and the list is the subject of an investigation by the Indian authorities.
Now it is HSBC Argentina in the spotlight.
Last Wednesday, 100 agents from the Argentine authorities raided the bank and seized documents related to an ongoing investigation into tax evasion that arose from the names revealed on the list.
The tax authorities in Argentina have accused HSBC of holding 4,000 secret accounts for its wealthy citizens. Among them, it is claimed, are senior executives of the bank.
In total Argentina estimates that $3bn in taxes have been avoided through offshore accounts managed by HSBC. The bank emphatically denies any wrongdoing and is co-operating with the investigation…watch this space.
Those plucky Swiss bankers again
Should criminals be allowed to manage your money?
Especially if we are talking high-risk investments often using complex offshore structures.
The US Department of Labor. That’s who.
Under US law a person convicted of a criminal offence is automatically banned from practicing as a “qualified professional asset manager”. This licence permits investment managers to engage in higher risk investments on behalf of its clients.
But the Department of Labor can grant a waiver exempting companies from the ban. Shockingly since 1997, the Department of Labor has granted waivers to all 27 firms that would have been affected by the punishment.
Now Credit Suisse is seeking a waiver after it pleaded guilty last year to criminal charges in the US relating to the help it gave US citizens in evading taxes. These crimes were committed over decades. In total Credit Suisse, helped 52,000 Americans evade taxes with secret offshore bank accounts.
Given the past performance of regulators, Credit Suisse must think its waiver is in the bag.
And the bank must have been cock-a-hoop because soon after the company pleaded guilty, banking regulators in New York and the Securities and Exchange Commission moved to exempt the bank from sanctions that would see it lose its banking licence and its licence to trade in securities. It was argued that stopping a criminal organisation from trading would damage the US economy. (Don’t think about this too deeply if you value your cat.)
But wait. Several congressmen have forced a public hearing on the Department of Labor’s decision on a waiver.
Evedex LLC , Consulco Intercorp. INC, Incnow and Marcaria are just a few examples of HSBC agents from US