If you happened to be walking by HSBC’s offices in the microcentro of Buenos Aires this afternoon and noticed a ruckus, it was because the Federal Administration of Public Revenue (AFIP) was busy raiding the bank’s offices! AFIP is after HSBC on charges of money laundering and tax evasion. During three separate raids, AFIP specifically sought evidence relating to the alleged laundering of more than ARS $392 million and “evasive maneuvers” regarding ARS $224 million. If you’re feeling shaky on math this evening, I’ll help you out: 392+224=616. Dividing by the current black blue rate of 13.05 ARS/USD, that’s almost US $50 million. Mucha plata.

And yes, you saw that correctly.  The peso weakened again today and now it takes over 13 pesos to buy a one US dollar.

Today’s ruckus marks the third in a series of investigations into tax evasion and money laundering first launched in 2009 and followed up in a search for physical evidence in 2013. The lawsuit places blame on bank managers for allegedly deceiving regulators in a scheme that amounts to “fraud of the treasury.”

Over the past six months HSBC had been employing the use of so-called “ghost” client accounts and false invoices in order to avoid paying the requisite value-added tax (VAT) on transactions. Concurrently, HSBC was allegedly temporarily shutting down parts of its information sharing network so regulators would not be aware of discretely transferred money.

Sources told local news outlets that the complicit companies include Red de Multiservicios SA, Más Distribuidora S.A. y Recaudaciones y Servicios del Sur S.R.L.

Speak no evil. (image/verizon)
Speak no evil. (image/verizon)

Top secret informants revealed to The Bubble this evening that upon entry into one of the the bank’s offices today, investigators yelled to HSBC employees that “[they] are not allowed to talk with anyone internally about anything.”

Speaking of the treasury, public finances were all over the news today. In addition to the fact that the current administration and its predecessor has possibly been hiding millions of public funds via US shell companies in the state of Nevada, HSBC was  in talks to buy Argentina’s debt from the holdouts. Unfortunately, those talks also broke down today. The peso really took it from all angles today.

You heard me correctly: he who hath hidden money from the Argentine treasury also hath previously offered to reduce its debt burden. Of course, Benedict Arnold HSBC claims full compliance amid the investigation.

I would pay 13 pesos on the dollar to know what’s going through Axel Kicillof’s mind right now.