SHARE
COPY LINK

SWITZERLAND

Spain rejects Swiss ‘data thief’ handover plea

A Spanish court refused on Wednesday to extradite a former HSBC employee to Switzerland where he is wanted for allegedly stealing banking data that exposed thousands of suspected tax dodgers.

Spain rejects Swiss 'data thief' handover plea
Herve Falciani collected data on at least 24,000 customers of HSBC's Swiss subsidiaries from 2006 to 2008. Photo: Juan Carlos Hidalgo/Pool/AFP

Herve Falciani, a 40-year-old French-Italian, was arrested in Barcelona in July 2012 after he arrived by boat from France.

Switzerland asked for Falciani to be extradited to face charges of violating Swiss banking secrecy laws.

But Spain's High Court denied the request on the grounds that the actions he is accused of are not subject to prosecution in Spain.

Falciani collected data on at least 24,000 customers of HSBC's Swiss subsidiaries from 2006 to 2008 while he worked in the bank's information technology development unit in Geneva which he then passed on to French authorities.

The files, which were subsequently relayed by French investigators to their counterparts in the United States, Spain, Italy, Greece and several other European Union countries, led to a raft of prosecutions.

During his extradition hearing last month Falciani said his intention was to raise the alarm about the bank's activity and denied he sought to sell the information as alleged by Swiss officials.

Spanish prosecutors had opposed his extradition at the hearing.

In December Spain's High Court ordered Falciani's release from jail pending his extradition hearing after the Spanish authorities argued Falciani was cooperating in several European countries in investigations into tax evasion, money-laundering, corruption and terrorism financing.

Falciani fled to France from Switzerland in 2009 while he was under investigation by the bank.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TAX FRAUD

Shakira to be questioned over alleged tax fraud in Spain

Colombian superstar Shakira will be questioned by a court near Barcelona on June 12th for allegedly evading €14.5 million ($16.5 million) in taxes.

Shakira to be questioned over alleged tax fraud in Spain
Photo: AFP

In a statement released Tuesday, the high court of Catalonia, where the singer lives with her partner, FC Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique, said she had been summoned to appear before a judge in Esplugues de Llobregat.

The 42-year-old is suspected of not paying taxes in Spain despite being a resident between 2011 and 2014, according to prosecutors.   

The case only covers the period from 2012 to 2014, however, as the timeframe to prosecute alleged tax offences in 2011 has expired.   

In a relationship since 2011 Pique, with whom she has two sons, Shakira transferred her official residency to Spain in 2015.   

Until then, it was in the Bahamas.   

But a spokesman for prosecutors in Barcelona told AFP last year that this didn't “match reality” with her children and partner in Barcelona.   

Shakira's representatives insist that until 2014 she earned most of her money in international tours and didn't live more than six months a year in Spain — a prerequisite to be an official tax-paying resident in the country.

With her mix of Latin and Arabic rhythms and rock influences, Shakira is one of the biggest stars from Latin America, scoring major global hits with songs such as “Hips Don't Lie” and “Whenever, Wherever.”

READ MORE: Shakira pays €20 million to settle Spanish tax debt

SHOW COMMENTS