• Switzerland's news in English
Court case against HSBC whistleblower adjourned
Hervé Falciani: decides against returning to Switzerland. Photo: AFP

Court case against HSBC whistleblower adjourned

Malcolm Curtis/The Local/AFP · 12 Oct 2015, 10:51

Published: 12 Oct 2015 10:51 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Falciani, 43, now living in Spain, failed to appear in the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona in the canton of Ticino on Monday to defend himself against charges of violating Swiss banking secrecy laws and other offences.

Federal prosecutor Carlo Bulletti requested the adjournment in view of Falciani’s non-appearance.

The whistle-blower has already said that he would not appear in the court for Monday’s court hearing or at another one set for November 2nd, the ATS news agency reported.

Falciani copied data relating to 130,000 suspected tax evaders with hundreds of millions of dollars in accounts at HSBC and since 2009 has been cooperating with various European countries by providing this information to governments.

The Franco-Italian faces criminal charges in Switzerland for unauthorized data procurement, economic espionage and violation of business secrets, in addition to breaching Swiss banking secrecy laws.

The prosecutor Bulletti has appealed to Falciani to return to Switzerland to explain himself and defend his behaviour, ATS reported.

Falciani is alleged to have copied the details of HSBC Private Bank accounts between 2006 and 2008 and then subsequently made the data available to public institutions and private companies in different countries between 2008 and 2014, according to court information.

While Falciani is widely viewed as a whistleblower and hailed as a hero in countries where his leaked information is helping net tax cheats, Swiss authorities are prosecuting him.
"Do I have the right to a just and fair trial? Maybe, but can one really call this a trial?" Falciani told the Swiss business weekly HandelsZeitung last week.
The trial had been set to run through to October 20th.
Falciani became an IT worker for HSBC in 2000 and moved to the bank's offices in Geneva in 2006.
The so-called "Snowden of tax evasion" and "the man who terrifies the rich" obtained access to a massive database of encrypted customer information.
In 2007 Falciani took the names of over 120,000 clients and by 2008 headed for Lebanon with his mistress and a plan to sell the data.

Swiss authorities described it as "cashing in".
Yet suspicious bankers in Lebanon were not interested in buying the dubiously sourced client list, and at least one instead tipped off counterparts in Switzerland to Falciani's activities.
After his plan to sell the data fell apart, Falciani got in contact with European fiscal authorities and began passing them the pilfered information, which prompted numerous tax evasion audits.

After an initial interrogation by Geneva cantonal police about his activities, he left Switzerland in December 2008 and has not returned since.

Falciani was arrested in Barcelona, Spain in 2012 but was released after Spanish authorities, who have used his stolen bank data to identify tax cheats, refused a request for his extradition by Switzerland.

The French government has also refused to extradite him.

Story continues below…

Falciani’s list is credited with identifying wealthy tax evaders, including Arlette Ricci, 73, French heir to the Nina Ricci perfume business, who earlier this year was sentenced in Paris to a year in jail and fined €1 million for tax fraud and money laundering.

Ricci, 73, has appealed the sentence.

Spanish banker Emilio Bottin, meanwhile, was ordered by Spanish tax authorities to pay €299 million based on information provided by Falciani. 

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Malcolm Curtis/The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Autumn in Switzerland: ten stunning Instagram photos
Photo: Swiss Tourism/Jan Geerk

Switzerland is beautiful in all seasons, but as these photos show, autumn is a special time in the alpine country.

Report: Swiss progress slows on gender equality
File photo: David Soulivet

Globally, it will take 170 years to achieve gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum.

Brothers go to court to stop suicide of sibling
File photo: Lisa Edmonds

Two men have filed a legal bid to prevent the Swiss assisted suicide association Exit from helping their older brother to kill himself.

Wawrinka snubs past form to reach Basel second round
Wawrinka beat local wildcard Marco Chiudinelli. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

US Open champion Stan Wawrinka has reached the second round in Basel after going out in the first round for the past four years.

Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben
Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: The Local
Ticino firefighters rescue cow from swimming pool
Photo: Antoni Da Campo
Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
Photo: Randy Kashka
Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Seven things you’ll miss about Switzerland if you leave
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
jobs available