HSBC whistleblower jailed by Swiss court

Herve Falciani

(BBC)  – A Swiss court has convicted a former HSBC worker of economic espionage and sentenced him to five years in jail.

Herve Falciani was on trial for leaking bank data that led to tax evasion probes worldwide against prominent clients with accounts in Switzerland.

Falciani did not attend the trial and because France does not extradite its own citizens, it is unlikely he will serve the sentence.

He told AP news agency he had “no reaction” to the sentencing.

Falciani had refused to travel from France to appear before the Swiss Federal Tribunal in Bellinzona for a trial that began last month.

He was charged with illegally obtaining data, economic espionage, breach of business confidentiality and breach of bank secrecy while working at a Swiss HSBC subsidiary between 2006 and 2008.

The court rejected all the charges except for one alleging a violation of economic intelligence, for having made public information about foreign entities in Lebanon, France, Germany, and the UK.

HSBC, which argued that he had illegally downloaded details from clients and accounts, welcomed the decision against Falciani, who was an IT worker at HSBC Private Bank (Suisse).

“HSBC has always maintained that Falciani systematically stole clients’ information in order to sell it for his own personal financial gain,” HSBC said in a statement.