Meet the writer of the most valuable e-mail in tax evasion history, Hervé Falciani.
Two years ago, he wrote to tax regulators around Europe, telling them he had the client account information of thousands of tax evaders using his Swiss bank, HSBC, to hide their assets, says the Wall Street Journal.
Subject line: “Tax evasion: client list available.”
HSBC says Falciani copied thousands of files of wealthy clients of its Swiss private-banking arm. (Authorities are investigating.)
Falciani says he was just trying to do good.
“I am not a Robin Hood, I’m not a mercenary. I acted like a citizen.”
But HSBC says his do-gooder act is a front: He has tried to position himself as a whistleblower within the organisation, but we have no record of his reporting or suggesting anything to his supervisor.
The bank also has no clue how he stole the data.
However the leak started, it seems that from Falciani’s list, authorities learned the names and account details of thousands of customers (we don’t know any client names yet) from 180 countries. HSBC says that only 24,000 client accounts leaked, but the public prosecutor in France said that 80,000 account holders in total have been identified, 8,000 of them French.
They’re so happy with Falciani they gave him a new identity – not that he wants it.
He hasn’t made any attempt to go into hiding at all. Falciani has given a number of interviews now, using his real name and putting his face out there for all to see.
So this guy could easily be a fame-monger. He also surfaced in March, saying that he was once kidnapped by the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service.
Another source of contention is whether or not Falciani asked for money in exchange for the client data.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Falciani admits being in possession of the data and confirms contacting governments about it. But he and Ms. Mikhael both deny breaking any laws. The emails sent regarding the data didn’t ask for money.
But German reports show he tried to sell the information to Germany for $3.39 million.
Clearly there’s a lot of confusion about how he stole the information, what he did with it after, and how he’s handling things now. The investigation currently being done by Swiss authorities will hopefully uncover something interesting, or at least fill in the holes.
- From Monaco
- Has a degree in computer programming
- Was 28 when he joined HSBC in 2000
- Wrote security software for the bank.
- Promoted in 2006 and moved to HSBC’s private banking headquarters in Geneva
- Job was supposed to be improving database systems and security – Ha!