According to Tribune de Genève, Hervé Falciani was arrested in Madrid last week at Switzerland’s request.
In 2008, Falciani a French-Italian who grew up in Monaco, took confidential information from the Geneva offices of HSBC, his employer, and fled to Lebanon where some claim he attempted to sell it. Later he shared the information with authorities in France and sought refuge there in 2009.
The information contained client information, some of which related to money that had not be declared to tax authorities and which eventually led to tax investigations and convictions around the world.
Many see Falciani as a heroic whistleblower. However, Swiss authorities consider him a criminal. In 2015, Switzerland’s Federal Penal Tribunal convicted him of aggravated financial espionage, data theft and violation of commercial and banking secrecy and sentenced him to 5 years in prison in absentia. Speaking to RTS in 2015, HSBC’s lawyer Laurent Moreillon, described Falciani as someone out to make money, not a whistleblower.
Falciani maintains that his trip to Lebanon was all part of a plan to expose a broken system, according to the Financial Times.
In 2012, Falciani was arrested in Barcelona at Switzerland’s request and then released after several months in detention after Spain refused to extradite him.