A former UBS employee accused of passing stolen bank data to the German authorities failed to appear in court for his hearing. Judges ruled that the trial will take place in his absence.
Even attempts to bring the accused’s wife to court in Bellinzona failed as she could not be found at home by police and could not be reached by telephone. The only available witness was the former boss of the defendant.
The 45-year-old man is accused of making more than €1 million (CHF1.12 million or $1.14 million) with the sale of data to the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia in the summer of 2012. He has been charged with violating Swiss banking secrecy laws, economic espionage and money laundering.
North Rhine-Westphalia adopted the tactic of buying stolen data to crack down on suspected tax cheats using Swiss banks to hide their undeclared assets. UBS and other banks have paid millions to the German authorities to settle legal cases brought on the basis of such information.
The German state even passed on the data it had acquired to other countries.
The defendant is not the first suspected whistleblower to evade the Swiss courts. In 2015, former HSBC worker Hervé Falciani was sentenced to a five-year jail sentence in absentia. He is still at large having fled Switzerland for France and then Spain.