HSBC tax evasion whistle-blower arrested in Spain

A former HSBC employee convicted of leaking account data that led to a tax evasion scandal has been arrested in Madrid.
In 2015, French national Herve Falciani was sentenced in absentia by a Swiss court for economic espionage, illegally obtaining data, breaching business confidentiality and bank secrecy.
Falciani, a former technology worker at the bank, leaked the records of thousands of prominent clients of HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA in 2008.Swiss authorities said Falciani wanted to profit from the data and HSBC said his actions were theft.Falciani told Sky News in 2015 that he had been trying to raise public awareness of an offshore banking system that was "out of control".He moved to Spain to avoid serving his five-year jail term.He was arrested in Barcelona in 2012, also on behalf of Switzerland, but Spain denied the Swiss extradition request because breaking secrecy laws was not subject to prosecution there.When Swiss authorities issued an arrest warrant for him on 19 March this year, however, Spain complied.Spain is reportedly seeking two pro-independence leaders from Catalonia who fled the nation for Switzerland earlier this year, and some commentators have wondered if a deal has been reached between the two countries.
Lawyer Marc Henzelin, who represents Falciani in Switzerland, said his client's legal standing was more favourable now than after the conviction, and he had "no reason to believe the Spanish authorities will accept an extradition".Regarding the possibility that Spain might have arrested Falciani as part of a deal for the pro-independence leaders, Mr Henzelin added: "I'm not able to verify that, but frankly if it were the case, I would consider that rather odious."The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which analysed the HSBC data for the Le Monde newspaper, said the accounts leaked were held by arms dealers, dictators' associates, diamond smugglers and other "outlaws".According to the files, the bank's clients included former and current politicians from Britain, Russia, India and a number of African countries.Those named included people sanctioned by the US, such as Turkish businessman Selim Alguadis and Gennady Timchenko, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was the subject of sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.The data resulted in a series of tax evasion investigations in France, Belgium, the US and UK.
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HMRC said it in 2015 that it had subsequently clawed back €135m from some of the 3,600 Britons identified as potentially avoiding tax.The bank said at the time that it had co-operated with authorities and that accounts from clients who "did not meet our high standards" had been shut down.
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