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Socialism Today - HSBC: the capitalists' go-to bank
Hervé Falciani, who worked at Geneva-based HSBC Private Bank Suisse for ten years as a computer analyst, handed over CDs on the workings of the bank from 2005-07 to French tax investigators back in 2008.
The thousands of pages of data, shedding light on 30,000 accounts worth almost $120 billion (£78bn), were made widely available by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in February this year.
The documents, purloined in 2007 by ...
The documents, purloined in 2007 by computer expert Herve Falciani working for HSBC in Geneva, contain details of more than 100,000 clients from around the world.
Shield Laws and Whistleblower Protections
However, the man who released the information, a former HSBC systems engineer named Hervé Falciani is still going through trial.
The aforementioned Hervé Falciani
has been on trial for a long time, and it's because HSBC
is accusing him of taking the information and selling it to the highest bidder.
has of course denied these claims, and is now living in France, as he
is a natural citizen of the country and so does not have fear of extradition.
Unlike the situations with Falciani
and Snowden, however, the Panamanian law firm has stated that it was not an inside source who leaked this information to the press.
HSBC Bank. The world's Most Scandalous Bank? | Forex Awards
His real name is Hervé Falciani, who worked as a systems engineer at the Geneva-based private banking unit of HSBC (HBC).
The bank would later discover, to their horror that he
had in fact carried out one of the biggest security breaches in Swiss banking history, obtaining details on the accounts of some 24,000 HSBC private-banking clients.
The account data later was passed along to tax authorities in European countries-including France, Spain, and the U.K.-who have used it to collect more than €1 billion ($1.34 billion) in back taxes.
says the data has also provided leads for ongoing investigations of corruption, money laundering, and terrorist financing.
The Geneva bank provided an "open door" for such illicit activity, Falciani
told a Spanish court earlier this year.
Towards the end of 2008 he
slipped out Geneva and has been skipping from one European country to the next, ever since: constantly staying just one step ahead of the Swiss prosecutors, who have accused him of massive data theft - a charge which could earn him up to three years in prison, should the Swiss authorities manage to capture him.
initially went to Spain, where the Spanish authorities refused to cooperate with the Swiss prosecutors - refusing their requests for extradition.
In fact he was praised, by a Spanish prosecutor as a whistleblower.
later moved to France, last summer in 2014, where he
has testified (behind closed doors) to various French parliamentary committees.
Falciani, who has dual French and Italian citizenship, joined HSBC in 2000 in Monaco as a computer specialist.
After being transferred to Geneva to work on a document-management system, he
discovered that clients' account information was not being adequately safeguarded.
superiors, but they ignored him.
"The bank was working mainly to protect its own profitability," he
"We do not have any record or knowledge of any previous attempts made by Falciani to alert his line manager or the bank's management," says David Bruegger, a bank spokesman in Zurich.
says that his
job did not give him access to client accounts, but that other employees shared his
concerns and began leaking account data to him in 2006.
, however, states that its internal investigation showed that Falciani alone took the information.
tried to pass the data to Swiss law-enforcement authorities to demonstrate the weakness of HSBC's
control systems, but was thwarted because they refused to protect his
then contacted intelligence services in several other countries, he
says, because he
"had started having doubts about Swiss justice."
Falciani's Mossad Meeting?
In a claim, which has never been substantiated - one evening in the summer of 2007, Falciani
was out walking along a street, in Geneva, when some men jumped out of a van and forced him to get in, and took him to the basement of a deserted building.
says that they told him they were Mossad agents and were asking him for his
help in ensuring that HSBC
would not "continue its practices.
The men didn't say specifically what they were concerned about, but Falciani
later suspected they were worried about hidden sources of terrorist money.
agreed to help, although he
had no way to verify whether the men actually worked for Mossad
So, what about that trip to Lebanon?
Bloomberg Business's article goes on to state that, according to Falciani
, it was the Mossad agents who proposed the Beirut trip.
The Essential Edge â€“ Battling the wrong giants: Security snoopers vs Wikileaks
While Wikileakers such as Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange have paid with serious loss of liberty for following their idea of justice, the financial fraud whistle-blowers such as Hervé Falciani (HSBC) and Bradley Birkenfeld (UBS) have made money from their acts.
Angelo Mincuzzi, the Italian journalist who helped Falciani write a book on his experience, observed that Birkenfeld's reward was less than 4 percent of what U.S. authorities recovered as a result of his revelations ($780 millions).