Argentina approaches Bermuda over tax case

Bermuda FlagBUENOS AIRES (Bloomberg) — Argentine tax authorities say they have requested information from Bermuda in connection with a money manager’s alleged offshore tax avoidance network.

The South American country announced that it is seeking the arrest of money manager Miguel Abadi for alleged involvement in the network.

The agency, in a statement, said it’s seeking information from tax agencies in the Virgin Islands and Uruguay, as well as Bermuda about offshore businesses and trusts that Abadi allegedly used. Abadi, who is listed as chief executive officer of London-based Gems Advisors Ltd on the firm’s website, had 12 accounts under his name and was part of a network that facilitated tax evasion by making offshore foreign businesses available, according to the Argentine agency.

In November, Argentina’s tax agency said it found thousands of undeclared bank accounts at HSBC Holdings Plc’s Swiss unit that helped Argentines evade taxes. Today’s statement called for the arrest of Abadi in the context of what the agency referred to as the “HSBC Case”, without specifying Abadi’s connection to the bank, if any.

A woman, who didn’t identify herself, answered a call to Gems’s contact number and said Abadi wasn’t available for comment. An e-mail sent outside of normal business hours to an address on the firm’s website wasn’t immediately answered.

Patrick Humphris, a Geneva-based spokesman for HSBC’s private bank, declined to comment yesterday.

An e-mail sent to the Argentine tax agency wasn’t answered.

The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released details on February 8 detailing how the Swiss private-banking unit handled secret accounts for tax evaders and criminals. The bank said its compliance efforts had been insufficient and had undergone “radical transformation” in the past eight years.

Swiss authorities searched the offices of HSBC’s private bank in Geneva last week as part of a probe into money laundering.