People walk past apartment blocks in Stockholm April 8, 2014. Four out of 10 borrowers in Sweden are not paying off their debt and on average it takes Swedes nearly a century for those who are paying off principal to clear their mortgage debt. Swedish property prices have nearly tripled in just two decades. In July, home prices rose at a double-digit pace from a year ago - the first time in more than four years. Picture taken April 8, 2014. Reuters/Ints Kalnins

In a recent order, Argentina's central bank asked the local HSBC bank to change its chief executive within 24 hours. This followed the apex bank's allegation that HSBC has become a conduit for tax evasion and money laundering in Argentina.

On September 1, the Central Bank of Argentina's order, directed HSBC to remove its regional president Gabriel Martino and vice president Miguel Angel Estevez from their roles. The Central Bank took the stand that neither Martino nor Estevez took convincing measures in thwarting “money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities.”

In November 2014, Argentine authorities locked horns with HSBC saying that the bank helped more than 4,000 clients evade taxes. They said the bank was complicit in hiding money at Swiss bank accounts, though HSBC rejected the charge and clarified that it has been complying with all the laws of Argentina, reports BBC. In March 2015, there was a directive by Argentina asking HSBC to return US$3.5 billion (AU$5 billion) from the offshore accounts.

In its response to the demand for changing the Chief Executive, HSBC said: “HSBC Argentina continues to operate normally in the country and complies with the laws and regulations that govern its activity in the country and continue cooperating with the Justice and regulators in Argentina.”

“The executive functions of HSBC Bank Argentina SA continue to be carried out by its general manager, Andres Hammar Aldatz, who was approved by the central bank on 28 May,” reported Russia Today added.

Offshore accounts

Ricardo Echegaray, head of Argentina's AFIP tax agency welcomed the central bank's move as “positive” and said the bank's clients had stashed away money abroad through secret channels and they have to accept criminal liability for it and will have to pay up the taxes.

“They will have to recognize that together with Martino, and the HSBC authorities in Argentina, they looked to cheat Argentina, to move funds abroad that they never declared and on which they had never paid taxes,” Echegaray told a press conference.

Flexible mortgage

Meanwhile, HSBC on Sep.7 overhauled its buy-to-let mortgage range in the United Kingdom and extended the products accessible to non-HSBC customers, for the first time. Reducing the rental cover requirements from 130 percent to 125 percent, the bank hiked the maximum loan-to-value from the present 60 percent to 75 percent.

The bank said its criterion for prioritising the buy-to-let mortgage applications will be solely on the basis of rental income, Mortgage Strategy reported.

“The availability of buy-to-let products is now at its highest point since 2008. High rents and low interest rates mean customers are increasingly seeing buy-to-let as an attractive investment opportunity. The policy and pricing changes we have made will make our range available to even more people," said HSBC's Head of Mortgages, Tracie Pearce.

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