Spain rejects extraditing HSBC whistleblower to Switzerland

Spain’s high court has rejected an extradition request from Switzerland against Hervé Falciani for leaking details of thousands of clients of HSBC’s private bank.

Hailed as a hero by some for triggering investigations in several countries, Swiss courts sentenced Falciani in absentia to five years in jail for leaking details of HSBC clients, many of whom he said he suspected were evading tax.

The Spanish court denied for the second time the extradition request against Falciani, a French citizen who worked for HSBC, over alleged industrial sabotage in 2008 because the charges included in the Swiss ruling are not considered a crime in Spain.

“The Spanish criminal code does not include any charge similar to the crime of ‘aggravated financial espionage’ for which the Swiss justice had sentenced Falciani to a five-year prison sentence,” the court said.

Switzerland’s federal office of justice, which lodged the extradition request, said it did not comment on court rulings.

France, Austria, Belgium, Spain and Argentina launched investigations based on the information leaked by Falciani, but Swiss authorities insist the data was stolen and therefore legally inadmissible.

Falciani was arrested in Madrid in April while on his way to speak at a conference on whistleblowing.

Spain’s high court released him from custody the next day but ordered him to remain in the country while the extradition request was considered.

The Guardian | September 18, 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/sep/18/spain-hsbc-whistleblower-switzerland-herve-falciani