Switzerland has filed an official request for Spain to extradite bank whistleblower Hervé Falciani, following his arrest in Madrid. Falciani has been on the run since 2015 after being handed a five-year jail sentence in absentia in Switzerland.
"The Federal Office of Justice on April 5 transmitted a formal request for extradition via diplomatic channels," a Swiss Justice Ministry spokesman told Reuters in an emailed statement on Thursday.
On the same day a Spanish court released Falciani from custody after confiscating his passport, limiting his freedom of movement within Spain and ordering police surveillance on the IT specialist while the extradition request is being reviewed.
The former IT worker of HSBC private bank in Geneva, who was behind the so-called Swiss Leaks scandal on tax evasion, was arrested in the streets of the Spanish capital on his way to a conference on Wednesday.
Falciani stole the data, containing more than 100,000 client names, from his former employer, HSBC private bank in Geneva, and attempted to sell them to several foreign governments. He eventually gave the files to then French finance minister Christine Lagarde – after which they were dubbed the “Lagarde list”.
The disclosure of this data has had an unprecedented impact. It allowed a consortium of several media outlets to reveal external linkthat nearly $120 billion (CHF116 billion) had passed through the HSBC bank in order to avoid taxes or to be laundered via front companies.
Falciani fled to Spain and then France, where he is protected from extradition by his French citizenship. In 2015, he was sentenced in absentia by a Swiss court to a five-year jail term for breaking Swiss banking secrecy laws and economic espionage.
Falciani said the verdict was politically motivated and has refused to enter Switzerland to serve his term.