• Switzerland's news in English
 

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.

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

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Migrant crisis
Swiss join bid to combat refugee smuggling
Forensic officers work at a truck found to contain dead migrants on a motorway in Austria on Thursday. Photo: Dieter Nagl/AFP

Swiss join bid to combat refugee smuggling

6 hours ago

Switzerland, Germany and Italy are preparing to launch a joint task force to detect and dismantle networks smuggling refugees and migrants into Europe, Swiss authorities said on Friday.

Nestlé accused in US of 'slave labour' cat food
Nestlé headquarters in Vevey in the canton of Vaud. Photo: Nestlé

Nestlé accused in US of 'slave labour' cat food

7 hours ago

UPDATED: Swiss-based food giant Nestlé on Friday rejected allegations that it had knowingly allowed its Fancy Feast cat food to contain fish from a Thai supplier suspected of using slave labour.

Swiss economy shows surprising growth in Q2
The Swiss economy continues to show resilience. Photo: Mike Chapman

Swiss economy shows surprising growth in Q2

17 hours ago

Domestic spending kept Switzerland’s economy expanding in the second quarter as government figures released on Friday showed a surprise upturn in growth.

Italian base jumper dies in Bernese Oberland
Base jumpers in Lauterbrunnen in the canton of Bern. Photo: AFP

Italian base jumper dies in Bernese Oberland

17 hours ago

A 46-year-old Italian plunged to his death in the Bernese Alps Thursday after crashing onto rocks during a base jump, the latest in a series of such accidents in Switzerland in the past year, police said.

Manhunt launched after Geneva hotel holdup
Photo: Geneva cantonal police

Manhunt launched after Geneva hotel holdup

17 hours ago

Geneva cantonal police launched a hunt for a man suspected of holding up a luxury hotel overlooking Lake Geneva on Thursday, two days after another armed robbery in the city.

US penalizes UBS for dealing with 'terrorist'
Photo: UBS

US penalizes UBS for dealing with 'terrorist'

1 day ago

UBS, Switzerland's largest bank, has agreed to pay American authorities $1.7 million to settle "apparent" violations of rules banning transactions benefiting officially designated terrorists, the US Treasury Department said on Thursday.

Wawrinka could face Murray in US Open
Switzerland's Wawrinka at last year's US Open. Photo: Getty Images North America/AFP

Wawrinka could face Murray in US Open

1 day ago

World number one Novak Djokovic could meet eighth-seed Rafael Nadal in the US Open quarterfinals while Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka could meet in another quarterfinal under the US Open draw announced on Thursday.

Report confirms rising number of immigrants
Citizens gather in Appenzell Innerrhoden for an annual Landsgemeinde (assembly of the people). Photo: AFP/File

Report confirms rising number of immigrants

1 day ago

Immigration is continuing to drive Switzerland’s growth in population, which rose by almost 100,000 to more than 8.2 million by the end of 2014, official government figures confirm.

Bern window smashing stunt promotes safety
Car is lowered into pool of water for window smashing demonstration. Photo: BFU

Bern window smashing stunt promotes safety

1 day ago

Visitors to Bern were treated on Wednesday to the unusual sight of a man smashing his way out of a car submerged in a pool of water in front of the federal parliament.

Federer to defend Brisbane title in 2016
Photo: AFP/File

Federer to defend Brisbane title in 2016

1 day ago

Switzerland's 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and five-time major-winner Maria Sharapova will defend their Brisbane International titles in the lead-up to the Australian Open in January, organizers said on Thursday.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

National
Switzerland set to test world's longest train tunnel under the Alps
National
US right-wing think tank: Swiss are freest people in Europe
National
Bottoms up: new signs alert visitors to Zurich's nudist bathing zones
Sport
Swiss man smashes cliff jumping record with 59-metre dive
National
Climate change seen as plus for Switzerland's wine growers
Photo: Federal Housing Office
National
Buying home in Switzerland is 'cheaper than renting'
National
Central bank to launch new high-tech banknotes — six years late
National
Swiss speed climber summits all 4,000m peaks in the Alps
National
Report: Switzerland is world's safest country (barring extreme sports)
National
Where are the top ten spots to visit in Switzerland for tourists?
National
Two Japanese climbers found dead after scaling Matterhorn's summit
National
High Geneva accommodation costs force unpaid UN intern to live in tent
National
Zurich farmer ordered to remove cow bells after noise complaints
National
Gays file criminal complaint against Swiss bishop over speech
National
The Expat Guide: Moving to Switzerland
National
Briton who ends life in Switzerland: 'Ideal shelf life for people is 70'
National
Aargau farmer under fire after pigs gassed to death by own excrement
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
National
Hot times: Swiss city to host first naked performance festival
Features
Expat American author's time in Zurich inspires racy bestseller
National
10 amazing places to be on Swiss National Day — or any other day
National
Swiss army pilfers water from French lake for cows in Switzerland
National
Swiss Army airlifts water to thirsty cows facing drought conditions
International
Canary Islands: diver killed in collision with Swiss windsurfer
National
VIDEO: Seagull steals camera for amazing bird's eye selfie
Switzerland celebrates first ascent of Matterhorn
Politics
Immigrant recruits may not be loyal: Swiss defence minister
Solar Impulse 2 round-the-world flight halted for repairs
Society
Teenager gets high on vegetarian meal at Zurich club
National
Greece seeks tax revenues from assets 'hidden' in Swiss banks
Culture
Paris police arrest Swiss artist for naked Eiffel Tower selfies
National
Scientists uncover largest Swiss dinosaur skeleton ever found
National
National weather office extends danger alerts as heatwave takes hold
National
Most severe heatwave in Switzerland since 2003 on the way
Travel
Bogglingly expensive Geneva club sandwiches remain 'priciest in world'
Politics
Anti-immigration nationalist party remains most popular: poll
National
Greek finance minister slams Swiss over lack of tax evasion info
Business & Money
Insects proposed for sale in Swiss supermarkets next year
National
'Oh God — I'm coming': noisy lovers' complaint goes public
National
Canton of Ticino threatens closing Italy border to asylum seekers
National
Just in case: Swiss National Bank prepares for Grexit 'crisis'
National
Russian crisis fuelled by sanctions threaten 40,000 Swiss jobs: study
National
Art Basel: Art for art's sake — or to make an investment?
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

4,404
jobs available