Falciani court date set over bank data theft charges

Hervé Falciani, pictured here at an extradition hearing in Spain in 2013, obtained private data from thousands of bank accounts Keystone

The ex-HSBC employee accused of stealing secret data from Swiss bank accounts is to go on trial in Switzerland in October. Hervé Falciani worked in IT at the bank’s Geneva branch and is alleged to have given information to the French authorities.

This content was published on August 13, 2015 - 17:39 and agencies

Falciani faces charges of violating business and banking secrecy, and retrieving unauthorised data. According to the charge sheet from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, Falciani copied data from his former employer and passed it on to private businesses and the authorities in other countries, including the French tax authorities.

The French-Italian dual citizen is alleged to have been copying the data from October 2006 up to December 2008, when he was questioned by police. He is supposed to have compiled personal and financial information on the bank’s clients.

The case first came to light when a man and a woman attempted to sell bank data in Lebanon. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office then opened criminal proceedings in May 2008 and were led to Falciani’s door after a series of house searches in Geneva. After being questioned, Falciani fled abroad.

An international warrant for his arrest was put out in 2009 and he was taken into custody in Barcelona in 2012. However, after being detained for a few months he was released. In May 2013 a Spanish court ruled that he would not be extradited to Switzerland.

Meanwhile, the French authorities had been using the data to target French tax evaders. When this became public, a crisis in relations developed between France and Switzerland. The tension was relieved when in February 2012, the French justice ministry decided that the stolen data could not be used as evidence against suspected tax evaders.

The court case is expected to begin on October 12 and last until October 20. Upon hearing of the trial, Falciani announced that he wanted to appear in court, stating that Swiss laws protect the interests of a few financiers and not those of Swiss citizens. If he does nevertheless fail to appear in court a new date will be set, if this is again missed he will be tried in his absence. 

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