Finance
HSBC Argentina ousts CEO after Macri's downfall in the primaries
A close adviser to the President, Gabriel Martino was a minister in everything but the title. His old disputes with the Kirchner administration might also be behind his exit.

 The unexpected results of Argentina's presidential primaries might take its first victim of the corporate world. After a strong bet to the reelection of President Mauricio Macri, HSBC is considering moving its CEO for Argentina Gabriel Martino to decompress the relationship with Peronist candidate Alberto Fernández.

The Argentinian banker was practically a minister in everything but name, who acted as presidential advisor and had direct access to both the Quinta de Olivos presidential residence and Macri's private ranch Los Abrojos.

His closeness to the President was such that he was the only banker willing to bet on Macri's failed PPP infrastructure financing project, an idea that was ultimately banned by HSBC's regional director. Martino was also behind the election of Pichetto as vice president for the October election and he even helped in the organization of the reelection launching rally.

But what frustrated an elegant exit for Martino was his old disputes with Kirchnerism.

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During the last year of her term, Cristina Kirchner ordered the Central Bank, then under the command of Alejandro Vanoli, to fire Martino from HSBC for not taking measures to prevent money laundering, after 4,000 undeclared accounts of Argentinians appear in the Swiss branch of the bank.

The Kirchner administration measures against HSBC included fines of several million pesos and legal complaints against Martino that were stopped immediately after Macri's arrival at the Casa Rosada.

Once the Macri administration started, the banker of Cambiemos not only assumed the leadership of HSBC again, but also participated in most of the debt investments and even named the vice president of the Financial Information Unit (UIF), the public entity in charge of fighting money laundering, a crime for which he was accused.

Faced with this scenario, sources close to the bank confirmed to this outlet that his departure is imminent. When consulted, the financial institution did not rule out these versions: "HSBC does not comment on rumors and/or speculation," they said.

The name of Juan Marotta, director of Latin American corporate banking, is already being mentioned as a possible replacement. Marotta, an Argentinian based in Mexico for several years, has extensive experience in HSBC and has been absorbing duties that correspond to Martino.

As for Martino, he might be relocated to Hong Kong, a top-level destination for finance executives that is currently under significant chaos because of the protests against mainland China. Apparently, Macri's friend has said that he prefers to be moved to Paris.

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