Switzerland brings charges against alleged HSBC 'data thief'

Monday, 15 December 2014
Switzerland's attorney-general has charged a former employee of HSBC Private Bank in Geneva with stealing client account data between 2006 and 2008 and trying to sell it, in breach of Swiss privacy laws.

The man, a dual French and Italian citizen, was not named in the indictment but news sources speculate that the indictment refers to Hervé Falciani.

According to the Swiss attorney-general’s indictment, the man went to Lebanon under an alias and attempted to sell banking data to local banks. This incident was reported by the Swiss Bankers Association.

In 2008, the Swiss police discovered the name of the unknown purveyor of bank data, who had worked as a computer analyst at HSBC Geneva. According to the attorney-general, the man was questioned and admitted 'to having developed a data-base project with fictitious names and to having approached Lebanese banks with his commercial idea', but absconded to France before the interrogation could continue.

Switzerland then approached the French authorities with a request for assistance following which the suspect was interrogated in France and his home was searched – leading to the discovery and seizure of 'various objects'.

The man was thereafter arrested in Spain as a result of an international arrest warrant but the Spanish government opposed his extradition – the indictment does not exclude the possibility of trying the suspect in absentia.

The Swiss attorney-general’s indictment charges him with qualified industrial espionage, unauthorised obtaining of data, breach of trade secrecy, and violation of banking secrecy.

HSBC Private Bank Geneva and several of its customers are also taking part in the proceedings against him.

The case has not yet come to court.


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