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Spain opposes return of Swiss bank data thief

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Spain opposes return of Swiss bank data thief
Hervé Falciani, former employee of HSBC Private Bank in Geneva, attends court hearing near Madrid on Monday. Photo: Juan Carlos Hidalgo/Pool/AFP
22:15 CEST+02:00
A Spanish prosecutor on Monday opposed the extradition of a former HSBC employee to Switzerland, where he is wanted for stealing banking data that exposed thousands of suspected tax dodgers.

Swiss authorities want Hervé Falciani, a French-Italian citizen arrested in Barcelona in July 2012 and then granted conditional release, sent back to Switzerland to face charges of breaching banking secrecy.
   
But during his extradition hearing Spanish prosecutor Dolores Delgado 
opposed the request on the grounds that the former computer engineer at the banking giant in Geneva was helping authorities investigate tax fraud.
   
"Falciani has cooperated with the authorities of various countries, 
starting with France, then Italy, the United states, and now Spain is benefiting from this cooperation," she told the Madrid court hearing the case.
 
"We can't punish people who, when they observe criminal conduct where they 
work, denounce it to the authorities," she said, adding that the total fraud unveiled amounted to 200 billion euros ($260 billion).
   
Falciani, who wore a grey suit and black tie, told the court he had received 
no remuneration for providing the data to France and other governments.
   
"Never, in no instance," the whistleblower said when asked if he had 
received any money for turning over the files — data linked to at least 24,000 customers of the bank's  Geneva subsidiary — to the French authorities.
   
The files, which were subsequently relayed by French investigators to their 
counterparts in the United States, Spain, Italy and several other European Union countries, led to a raft of prosecutions.
   
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."
   
Falciani said he informed Swiss authorities in 2008 but they refused to let 
him make an anonymous complaint.

He said he then sent the files to French authorities.

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