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Latin America March 11, 2013 – March 15, 2013 Carly Clendening HSBC Bank in Argentina under Money Laundering Claims

Argentina has filed claims against HSBC for allegedly using fake bank receipts to launder around $77 million. HSBC has assured that they will be cooperative in order to resolve the issue. They have also been progressively heightening their laundering regulations. HSBC spent nearly $300 million to improve their operations and hired a former United States Treasury Office official to head their financial crime compliance position last year. HSBC was also involved in a similar case with the United States; a settlement of $1.9 billion was paid. Argentina’s tax agency found that HSBC’s tax evasion and laundering tactics in the past half year acquired the $77 million. It is claimed that this is the first time a local bank, part of an international company, is involved in these types of allegations. The charges were filed by AFIP, a federal tax agency, and the case now goes before a federal judge. AFIP’s hopes from the case will be that the money be rightfully returned to the state and their justice system dutifully applies sanctions under tax law. The charges of illicit association, under Argentina’s law, provides for prison time if convicted. Three companies that they know of were involved in the “phantom operations” used to deposit checks used to launder money and evade taxes. Deadly Landslides in Brazil In Rio de Janeiro, torrential rains have plagued the area killing over 20 people, including children, adults, and rescue workers. A foot and a half of rain poured over the region within 24 hours creating floods in nearby towns destroying over 50 homes. President Dilma Rousseff made a claim to authorities for stronger action to be taken to remove the villagers from those unsafe areas. She explained that their efforts to urge people to move out of those areas are too soft, because people just refuse to leave. The mountainous Rio area creates a dangerous zone for people to live due to the unsecure river banks amongst the towns. However, sirens to warn people of danger and to evacuate have been installed in those regions and refuge shelters have been established. Emergency response groups from the Brazilian National Force have also been sent in to help in the affected areas. In 2011, flooding and landslides created a massacre of about 1,000 people, the worst natural disaster in Brazil’s history. These types of disasters are known to occur most during the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere. More heavy rain has been forecasted in Rio, schools are shutdown, and the city remains on high alert. Vatican Defends Pope Francis on “Dirty War” Allegations

The Vatican is backing Jorge Bergoglio, now named Pope Francis the first Pope from Latin America, on claims that Bergoglio didn’t address human rights abuses in his home country, Argentina, during the Dirty War era. This time period of military rule is believed to have as many as 30,000 people killed or missing. They claim that there has not been any solid evidence or formal charges made against him. Bergoglio is known for leading the Jesuits of Argentina fighting against “a repressive right-wing regime.” He was the supreme priest of that time and was accused of not protecting two Jesuits who were abducted by government authorities due to suspicions of their work in 1976. Bergoglio served as a witness in the case in 2010 against these two men, who were eventually freed. Baby-theft claims were also made against him and other preists, but the Vatican explains these allegations are just trying to defame him. The Vatican is very concerned with the accusations said against Pope Francis because they do not want this information to tarnish the newly initiated Pope or the Vatican’s image. Reverend Ignacio Perez del Viso defended Bergoglio in that he was among the few priests who spoke out against the dictatorship during that time, while helping others who were in turmoil as well. Still questions of his honesty and character persist with several accounts of his misconduct during the war, but he continues to be endorsed by several prominent people and leaders, such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Esquival. Prior to his formal initiation, Bergoglio met with Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who he had long-time issues with such as the country’s legalization of gay marriage. They discussed the Falkland Islands situation and she noted that he has much concern over many pressing issues. Out of frustration from Guantanamo Bay still being open, 25 prisoners went on hunger strike. 8 of those prisoners had lost an extraordinary amount of weight that doctors had to force feed them nutrients. The inmates have noticed President Obama’s waning efforts to close down the detention center. At first the President’s orders when he took office in 2008 were to close the prison within a year, but attempts to cooperate with Congress make the issue difficult. Other reasons for the hunger strike include claims that the prisoner’s Korans were being mistreated by guards, but General John Kelly head of U.S. military forces in Latin America refutes their claims. Over 50 lawyers representing the 166 inmates have tried to garner the help of the U.S. Defense Secretary in the hunger strike matter. Over half of the prisoners have been held for over 10 years without any charges against them. Many are in the process of being cleared for transfer or discharge. The prisoners also noticed that Guantanamo was not of subject in the President’s inaugural speech this past January and are seeking to use the media in order to get back on the agenda. The U.S. spends over $600,000 on each prisoner every year, which is 20 times more than what is spent on prisoners in high-security prisons in the states. Not to mention, around $170 is claimed to be needed for upgrading the facilities and security for troops stationed at Guantanamo. General Kelly explained that the prison was designed to be temporary and not last as long as it has. The State Department has reassigned the “special envoy” for closing Guantanamo and will not replace the empty position.