• 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."

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
UBS 'to pay French $1.5 billion over tax evasion'
Photo: Martin Abegglen

UBS 'to pay French $1.5 billion over tax evasion'

Swiss bank UBS was on Wednesday charged with tax fraud in Paris for allegedly helping rich French clients to hide money in Switzerland, a judicial source said. READ  

Renewable energy activities hit ABB results
Photo: Roland Zh

Renewable energy activities hit ABB results

Swiss-Swedish engineering group ABB said its profits fell in the second quarter, pulled down by renewable energy activities, despite strong orders, particularly in North America. READ  

Red Cross officially declares Ukraine civil war

The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross said Wednesday that it considered Ukraine to be in a state of civil war, urging both sides to respect the laws of conflict as civilians bear the brunt. READ  

Israel's actions 'may be war crimes': Pillay
Navi Pillay. Photo: UNHCR

Israel's actions 'may be war crimes': Pillay

Israel's military actions in the Gaza Strip could amount to war crimes, UN rights chief Navi Pillay said in Geneva on Wednesday, while also condemning indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian militants Hamas. READ  

Wheelchair user killed in station by SBB train
Photo: Sebastian Widmann/AFP/Getty Images

Wheelchair user killed in station by SBB train

An investigation is under way into the death of a man in a wheelchair who was killed on Tuesday by a Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) train travelling through the Roggwil-Wynau train station in the canton of Bern. READ  

Geneva bank CBH snaps up Portuguese interests
Photo: (Detail) AFP

Geneva bank CBH snaps up Portuguese interests

The main shareholder of troubled Banco Espirito Santo (BES) was placed in receivership on Tuesday as the parent group announced it has sold off the bulk of its Swiss-based activities to Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique, a Geneva-based bank. READ  

Palestinian meets Fifa chief over Gaza crisis
FIFA chief Sepp Blatter. Photo: Marcello Casal Jr.

Palestinian meets Fifa chief over Gaza crisis

Fifa chief Sepp Blatter on Tuesday raised the alarm about the spiralling Gaza crisis as he held talks with the head of the Palestinian Football Association. READ  

Hackers exploit 'holes' in Swiss online banking
Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP/File

Hackers exploit 'holes' in Swiss online banking

Computer hackers are using a “trojan horse” virus to target users of 16 Swiss online banking sites, according to reports from security experts who liken the “holes” in internet banking security to Emmental cheese. READ  

Geneva lawyer named US ambassador to Finland
Charles C. Adams Jr. Photo: Paul Ronga

Geneva lawyer named US ambassador to Finland

President Barack Obama has named Charles C. Adams Jr., a prominent American lawyer and Democratic Party supporter living in Geneva, as US ambassador to Finland. READ  

Strong franc dents Swatch first-half profits
Photo: Swatch

Strong franc dents Swatch first-half profits

Swatch, the world’s biggest watch company, recorded lower profits for the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period a year earlier, as the strong Swiss franc took its toll. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sport
Video of Bern football player's spectacular own goal goes global
Tech
Switzerland stays on top of innovation rankings for fourth year
National
Roger Federer and Lindsey Vonn play tennis at Jungfraujoch (VIDEOS)
Business & Money
Competition commission launches probe into Swiss car leasing 'fiddle'
Health
Down's syndrome cases in Switzerland more than double
National
American family files hefty lawsuit over deadly Swiss balloon crash
Features
Graubünden's panoramic Bernina Express celebrates rail history
National
Study rates Zurich as world's fifth most expensive city for expats
National
Swiss-based human brain project directors hit back at research critics
Business & Money
Switzerland gets the edge on EU with China free trade agreement
National
Entries for new Swiss national anthem competition swell over 200
National
Zurich-based helicopter firm denies role in Schumacher medical leak
Culture
Montreux Jazz Festival debuts live internet streaming of concerts
Features
Tour of Bern’s historic fountains tells story of Switzerland's capital
National
Swiss media lament football team's 'cruel' and 'bitter' defeat
International
The Local expands its reach with the launch of new website in Denmark
Sport
Jubilant press hails hat-trick hero Shaqiri as 'Swiss Messi'
National
New website study reveals inequality in Swiss disposable income
Travel
Switzerland’s largest ski area 4-Vallées breaks up over lift dispute
National
VIDEO: Zurich Zoo launches contest to name newborn baby elephant
Business & Money
CEO-to-worker pay gap grows at biggest Swiss firms: union study
Culture
VIDEO: Swiss performance artist plans naked stroll at Art Basel
National
Zurich's new rail line and underground station open 'without a hitch'
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

2,181
jobs available