The passing of the torch.
It's not Venezuela, now that old Hugo is gone. It's not Cuba. And it's definitely not the U.S. Indeed, the ballsiest country on this side of the globe seems to be measuring its cojones against us, in a series of direct throw-downs. And Argentina's are bigger.
First, it decided not to pay the bills anymore. Then, it got huffy about it and acted as though certain hedge funds are the ones who defaulted on more than $100 million in debt. Then, it told a whole army of U.S. judges that it could care less what they said and that it would continue to act howsoever it desires.
Argentina's government said it filed criminal charges against the local subsidiary of U.K. bank HSBC Holdings PLC for allegedly helping businesses evade taxes and launder a total of 616 million pesos ($121 million).
Ricardo Echegaray, director of federal tax agency Afip, said a six-month investigation uncovered evidence that several companies evaded taxes of 224 million pesos and laundered 392 million pesos through phantom bank accounts at HSBC Bank Argentina SA….
Afip also is also investigating other banks and a brokerage firm that might be involved in tax evasion and money laundering, Mr. Echegaray said….
Afip can assess fines for tax evasion ranging from three to 10 times the amount in question, said a person in the government familiar with the case. Executives at the companies targeted in the probe, including HSBC, have been charged with "illicit association," this person said.
Argentina's criminal code provides for prison terms of as much as 10 years for those people convicted of that crime.