MADRID – The Spanish prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday during a hearing at the National Court that it opposed Switzerland’s extradition request against the former employee of the British multinational bank HSBC who leaked sensitive data indicating that its Swiss private banking arm helped clients evade taxes.
Prosecutors argued that the latest extradition request for whistleblower Herve Falciani could be rejected as it was filed on the same grounds as a previous petition shot down by the court in 2013.
“We oppose the Swiss authorities’ extradition request against Herve Falciani because the charges included in the Swiss ruling are not considered a crime in our legal system,” said prosecutor, Teresa Sandoval.
Switzerland has already sentenced him in absentia to five years in prison.
Fighting his extradition since his re-arrest this year, French-Italian national Falciani defended his massive data leak saying that if it wasn’t for his actions the long list of accounts linked to tax evasion – which prompted the multinational lender to pay out 300 million euros ($352 million) to France to circumnavigate a fraud trial – may never have been revealed.
The 46-year-old was working in HSBC’s IT department in Geneva between 2006-08 when he obtained access to the confidential client information.
He was arrested and questioned by Swiss authorities in December 2008 on charges of trying to sell the account data to Lebanon’s Bank Audi in Beirut and after being released on bail that same month, he fled to France – where he was shielded from extradition as a citizen – and lived for years there under police protection.
A few months later, the French government admitted it had a list of 3,000 taxpayers suspected of using accounts in Switzerland to evade taxes; it also subsequently shared the Falciani list with all the countries with which it has tax cooperation agreements, leading to numerous tax evasion audits.
It is estimated that the Falciani list contained the data of 130,000 clients from 180 countries.