• Switzerland edition
 
Spain refuses to extradite Swiss bank data 'thief'
Hervé Falciani in Spanish court. Photo: Pool/AFP

Spain refuses to extradite Swiss bank data 'thief'

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

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

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines

Swiss confirm European terror plot by three Iraqis

Swiss authorities confirmed on Friday that three Iraqis arrested in March are suspected of having planned a terrorist attack in Europe on behalf of the Islamic State group. READ  

Violent teen rearrested after therapy fails
Carlos was arrested in Zurich. Photo: Justin Otto

Violent teen rearrested after therapy fails

Following a fight in Zurich city centre, police have rearrested a teenager with a history of violent behaviour whose costly therapy programme provoked public outrage earlier this year. READ  

Gold reserves boost Swiss national profits
Swiss gold reserves rose in value by 3.3 billion euros. Photo: Bullion Vault

Gold reserves boost Swiss national profits

The Swiss central bank reported a profit equivalent to 23.6 billion euros for the first nine months of the year on gains from currency trading and a rise in the value of its gold reserves. READ  

Kosovan sex slave flees Switzerland for Austria
File photo: Francesco di Fazio

Kosovan sex slave flees Switzerland for Austria

A 19-year-old woman from Kosovo who claims she was forced into prostitution and kept as a sex slave in a cellar in Switzerland for almost three years has sought asylum in Austria. READ  

Swiss shun religion for the supernatural
Some 24 percent of those surveyed said they believed in angels. Photo: K Hurley

Swiss shun religion for the supernatural

While the number of religious people in Switzerland is on the decline, nearly two thirds of Swiss believe in the supernatural, according to a new survey. READ  

Swiss politicians against pedestrians on phone
Texting in the street is a dangerous distraction, feel politicians. Photo: Matthew Kenwrick

Swiss politicians against pedestrians on phone

The days of whatsapping while walking could be over in Switzerland if some politicians get their way. Members of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) are calling for people who walk about the streets with their eyes on their smartphones to be punished, saying they are a danger to themselves and others. READ  

Federer advances as Wawrinka falls in Paris
Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

Federer advances as Wawrinka falls in Paris

Roger Federer advanced at the Paris Masters tennis tournament on Thursday after beating Frenchman Lucas Pouille in two sets. READ  

Geneva doctors dress for battle with Ebola virus
Health workers take part in pre-deployment training. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Geneva doctors dress for battle with Ebola virus

Sweating behind fogged-up goggles, Thanh Dang meticulously follows each instruction as she peals away layers of protective clothing, stopping repeatedly to wash her double-gloved hands in chlorine disinfectant. READ  

Former Coop Bank CEO faces three-year ban
FINMA found irregularities at the bank. Photo: Coop Bank

Former Coop Bank CEO faces three-year ban

The Swiss Financial Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has banned former Coop Bank CEO Andreas Waespi from any managerial role for three years after it was found he manipulated share prices at the bank. READ  

Federal law aims to ease Swiss rent rises
New tenants will now have the right to know the rent paid by their predecessors. Photo: Ruth Hartnup

Federal law aims to ease Swiss rent rises

Anyone taking on a new lease on a rental property in Switzerland will have the right to know what rent the landlord charged the previous tenants under new changes to the tenancy law. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Job candidates unhappy with hiring process in Switzerland
National
Glacier 3000 opens new foot bridge spanning two mountains in Vaud
National
Swiss seek special Unesco heritage listing for yodelling and watchmaking
International
Switzerland regarded as best place in world for expats: global survey
National
Red faces at Migros over Hitler and Mussolini coffee cream pots
National
Quarter of workers in Switzerland 'stressed out': new survey
Travel
Lonely Planet ranks Zermatt among top places to visit in 2015
National
Majority of Swiss back proposed new immigration curbs: poll
Features
Eritrean asylum seekers find refuge in Swiss monastery town
National
Expat American professor disputes 'unjust' Swiss citizenship rejection
National
Sputtering eurozone drags down Swiss economic growth forecast
Features
Swiss-based English expat writer lauds immigrant 'brains and brawn'
International
Our survey: Switzerland third priciest for food and drink from back home
National
Zurich market gardener sets world 'record' for heaviest pumpkin
National
Report: Switzerland's residents richer than before economic crash
Features
Geneva lab sleuths use high tech to help art world uncover fakes
National
Father of Scot missing since early September fears Swiss trauma
National
Foreign women give birth to rising share of newborns: latest figures
National
'Giant's penis' bloom in Basel uni botanical garden bigger than ever
National
Switzerland's voters reject public health insurance proposal
National
Zooming foreign immigration continues to boost Swiss population
National
Scientific study rings alarm over wellbeing of Swiss cows with bells
National
Geneva MP seeks ban on charging for tap water in restaurants
Business & Money
Switzerland's residents top world financial wealth list: Allianz report
National
Saint Maurice abbey in Valais celebrates 1,500 years of history
National
Streaming movie video service Netflix arrives in Switzerland
National
Professional Chilean base jumper dives to death in Swiss Alps
Education
ETH Zurich remains top university in Europe: QS world rankings
National
Switzerland's housing vacancy rate jumps: new federal figures
National
Swiss football club fires team masseuse over explicit sex video
National
Geneva police arrest easyJet passenger over hand luggage row
Business & Money
Latest forecasts for Swiss economic growth turn less bullish
Sport
Formula One legend Schumacher to continue treatment at Swiss home
National
Former federal planning official calls for nine Swiss cantons
Features
The Local gets the lowdown on mushroom picking in Switzerland
National
Virgin boss Richard Branson's son rescued from peak of Matterhorn
National
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter's commute turns Twitter sensation
Features
High-tech cameras give dizzy view of Eiger's north face (VIDEO)
Politics
Baden municipal council strips 'nude selfies mayor' of duties
Business & Money
Switzerland stays atop competitiveness table for sixth year
National
Federal parliament secretary agrees to step down over nude selfies
National
Swiss residents pick Swedes as ideal European soul mates: survey
National
Zurich officials call project to move prostitutes to 'sex boxes' a success
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,201
jobs available