Swiss Leaks whistle-blower fights extradition in Spain

French-Italian systems engineer and former employee of HSBC, Herve Falciani attends a hearing on his extradition to Switzerland at the National Court in Madrid Spain, 11 September 2018. Switzerland sentenced Falciani to five years in prison for alleged unauthorized acquisition of data, financial espionage and violating Swiss bank and business secrecy rules. EPA-EFE/EMILIO NARANJO / POOL

Swiss Leaks whistle-blower fights extradition in Spain


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Swiss financial whistleblower Herve Falciani is fighting his extradition from Spain to Switzerland.

This is the second extradition request by Switzerland, who have tried Falciani in absentia and in 2015 sentenced him to five years in prison. Falciani was first arrested in Barcelona in 2012; in 2013, Spain rejected the first extradition request as the suspect faced charges that are not considered a crime in Spain.

The Spanish Prosecutor Teresa Sandoval opposes Falciani’s extradition.  Spanish authorities have worked with Falciani for just under a decade to unveil a string of tax evasion in a case known to the media as “Swiss Leaks.”

In 2008 Falciani leaked the details of thousands of EU citizens holding HSBC Swiss accounts and involved in tax avoidance schemes. The Monaco-born Falciani is an IT expert. He fled from Switzerland to France and, thereon, Spain.

Since 2009 he has been cooperating with Spanish financial authorities. Spain has communicated this information to other EU member states and Argentina, leading to thousands of investigations and convictions. The “Swiss Leaks” case involved more than 100,000 individuals and corporations.

Swiss authorities are charging Falciani with industrial sabotage. In November 2017 HSBC was forced to settle a French tax evasion investigation paying €300 million.

Bern insists that Falciani stole financial data and, therefore, any evidence presented is legally inadmissible.

Falciani was arrested in April 2018 in Madrid, en route to a conference at Comillas University on whistleblowing. He has been released from custody but cannot leave until his extradition request has been considered. He claims his life is in danger and Spanish authorities have provided him with bodyguards.

The BBC reports that this time there is suspicion of a political exchange between Bern and Madrid.

Two leading Catalan pro-independence politicians, Marta Rovira and Ana Gabriel, fled from Spain to Switzerland. A supreme court judge in Madrid has filed a European Arrest Warrant for Ms Rovira. The suspicion is that Swiss and Spanish authorities may be negotiating a deal with political significance.

 Spain’s justice minister has denied government involvement in the Falciani arrest. Falciani’s defence team objects to Falciani being detained on consideration of a European Arrest Warrant on the same charges he faced in 2013.

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