• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Spain refuses to extradite Swiss bank data 'thief'

AFP · 8 May 2013, 21:49

Published: 08 May 2013 21:49 GMT+02:00

Hervé Falciani, a 40-year-old French-Italian, was arrested in Barcelona in July 2012 after he arrived by boat from France.
   
Switzerland asked for Falciani to be extradited to face charges of 
violating Swiss banking secrecy laws and revealing industrial secrets.
   
But Spain's National Court denied the request on the grounds that violating 
banking secrecy laws is not punishable as a criminal offence in Spain.
   
The court also argued that Falciani cannot be accused of revealing
 industrial secrets since the information he disclosed was given to the "competent authorities" and it was "related to illegal acts carried out through this bank which cannot be penally protected".

Spanish prosecutors had opposed Falciani's extradition on the grounds that he was helping authorities investigate tax fraud and because banking secrecy was abolished in Spain in 1977.
   
"We can't punish people who, when they observe criminal conduct where they 
work, denounce it to the authorities," Spanish prosecutor Dolores Delgado said during Falciani's extradition hearing last month in Madrid.
   
Falciani collected data on at least 24,000 customers of HSBC's Swiss 
subsidiaries from 2006 to 2008, while he worked in the bank's information technology development unit in Geneva.

He then passed on the data to French authorities.
   
The files, which were subsequently relayed by French investigators to their 
counterparts in the United States, Spain, Italy, Greece and several other European Union countries, led to a raft of prosecutions.
   
During his extradition hearing Falciani said his intention was to raise the 
alarm about the bank's activity and denied he sought to sell the information as alleged by Swiss officials.
   
"Never, in no instance," he said when asked if he had received any money 
for turning over the files to the French authorities.
   
He told the court he obtained the files from colleagues and said the 
information was so abundant that "if printed, it would fill an entire freight train."
   
Spain's National Court ordered Falciani's conditional release from jail 
pending his extradition hearing in December after the Spanish authorities argued he was cooperating in several European countries in investigations into tax evasion, money-laundering, corruption and terrorism financing.
   
Members of Spain's grass-roots "Indignant" movement against corruption and 
economic inequality had called for his release, seeing him as a hero.
   
Falciani fled to France from Switzerland in 2009 while he was under 
investigation by HSBC.
   
US officials then warned him he was in danger and advised him to go to 
Spain, Falciani said in a lengthy interview published in daily Spanish newspaper El Pais last month.
   
"They told me that the only safe place in Europe would be Spain, which had 
used my information with success in important cases," he said.

Story continues below…

"They thought it would be very unlikely that Spain would approve my extradition to Switzerland."

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss Wawrinka advances to the French Open last-eight
It was Wawrinka's fifth win in five meetings with Troicki. Photo: AFP

Defending champion Stan Wawrinka moves into the French Open quarterfinals.

Vast Swiss rail tunnel finally sees light at end of long wait
Workers standing in one of the Gotthard base access tunnels. Photo: AFP

The Gotthard Base Tunnel opens on Wednesday.

London Olympic athletes fail new doping tests
IOC president Thomas Bach announced the news. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/ADP

The Lausanne-based International Olympic Committee reports 23 new doping failures from 2012 Games.

Swiss supermarkets look to scrap free plastic bags
Coop is among the supermarkets considering the idea. Photo: Coop

Voluntary agreement may be the solution after a commission quashes idea of outright ban.

Head-on crash leaves Swiss motorcyclist dead
The accident happened on the way to Les Mosses. File photo: Falk Lademann

A motorcyclist died in a head-on crash with a car on a mountain road in Vaud.

Bern renews funding for controversial arts centre
Bern town hall. File photo: Dennie Jarvis

The Reitschule has been granted a reprieve after authorities in the city agreed a 1.5 million franc grant to keep it going until 2019.

Neighbours’ day: Swiss cities join growing European party
Around 40 towns in Switzerland will celebrate Neighbours' Day. Photo: Tag der Nachbarn

St Gallen becomes the latest Swiss town to take part in European Neighbours’ Day.

Swiss boffins create cannabis e-cigarette
File photo: Marcel van Hoorn/AFP

"Cannavaping" for medical use is safer than a joint and better than a pill, say Lausanne scientists.

Swiss cantons team up to vie for winter Olympic games
The resort of Verbier in the canton of Valais. File photo: The Local

Valais and Vaud launch joint candidacy for the 2026 winter Olympics.

Ticino beaches praised in European report
Bathing spots on Lake Lugano were among those rather excellent. Photo: Roland Gerth/Swiss-image.ch

More than 100 Swiss beaches have been rated as excellent for water quality in a European report.

Photo: Swiss Tourism
Features
10 unspoken rules for fitting in with the Swiss
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Photo: Alp Transit Gotthard
National
Gotthard base tunnel: what you need to know
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Sport
Swiss cantons team up to vie for winter Olympic games
Sponsored Article
Becoming an expat: where to start
Photo: Broad Bean Media
National
Basel: Muslim schoolboys must shake hands or face fine
Photo: Emmanual Dunand/AFP
Sport
Brother of Belgian bomber wins gold in Switzerland
Photo: Gstaad Tourism
National
Snow puts end to hottest weekend of year so far
File photo: Abhishek Jacob
Lifestyle
Swiss court vetoes wedding of couple with 50-year age gap
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
Culture
Dog day afternoon: Swiss saint meets Pope in Rome
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Business & Money
Pink diamond sold for record-breaking $31m in Geneva
File photo: Candida Performa
Lifestyle
Revealed: living in Switzerland could prolong your life
Photo: Cervo
Travel
In pictures: Switzerland’s most welcoming hotels
Photo: Aargau cantonal government
‘Beast of Rupperswil’ was local football coach
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Features
Geneva exhibition marks 200 years of Frankenstein
Photo AFP
National
Swiss basic income campaign sets Guinness world record
Photo: St Gallen police
Society
Police hunt killer of man shot dead in St Gallen street
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Society
Presumed jihadist could have Swiss nationality quashed
Photo: Zurich Zoo
Culture
Gallery: giant tortoise at Zurich Zoo is mother at 80
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Society
Swiss farmer loses appeal in row over noisy cow bells
Photo: Esparta Palmer
Health
44-year-old woman refused fertility treatment on insurance
File photo: Thomas Coex/AFP
Society
Jilted admirer shocks woman with tattoo... of her face
File photo: Flickr
Health
Swiss school eyes longer holidays for non-smoking staff
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
Swiss basic income vote: what you need to know
 Photo: Heinrich Plum
National
Lidl uses German mountain to promote its Swiss products
4,564
jobs available