DONATE TODAY HOT TOPICS ▶ Climate Change     Undoing The New Deal     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  November 1, 2015

'Ed Snowden of Banking' Refuses to Appear in Swiss Trial

After Herve Falciani leaked more than 100,000 HSBC account records of tax evaders to government tax agencies, the Swiss government has been on a witch hunt says economist James Henry
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

TRNN has... made its mark with amazing original reporting on the Middle East and international protest movements. - Caroline Lewis
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


James S. Henry is an investigative economist and lawyer, a Global Justice Fellow at Yale University, and a Senior Advisor at the Tax Justice Network. Previously, James served as Chief Economist at the international consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. As an investigative journalist his work has appeared in numerous publications like Forbes, The Nation and The New York Times.


JESSICA DESVARIEUX, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

He's a name you might not have heard of, but you should know: Herve Falciani. He is sometimes called the Ed Snowden of banking. Back in 2008 he committed the most significant theft of data in banking history. The former systems engineer at the Swiss subsidiary of HSBC downloaded details of more than 100,000 potential tax evaders and made the information available to the account holders' national tax agencies. He's been wanted by the Swiss government for seven years and counting.

Here to discuss his case is James Henry. James is a leading economist, attorney, and investigative journalist who has written extensively about global issues. Thank you so much for joining us, James.

JAMES HENRY: Glad to be here.

DESVARIEUX: So James, Falciani, he's supposed to face trial in the first week of November. But he's come out saying that he would not attend his trial because he won't be given a fair trial in Switzerland. Can you just briefly explain the charges the Swiss government has brought against him, and do you think his claim is valid?

HENRY: Well, Switzerland has very tough bank secrecy laws and trade secret laws, and they have indicted him in absentia. He faces a trail in absentia on November 2, next week. So he's wisely, I think, decided not to go back to Switzerland. He's actually in France helping the French authorities prosecute the bank that he was employed at, HSBC, and its Geneva branch where they had been helping more than 130,000, actually, clients from all over the planet, including many politically influential people, evade taxes and protect stolen assets.

So from a Swiss standpoint, they don't have a whistleblowing protection law. They have a kind of witch hunt that they go after--this is just one of a number of whistleblower cases that have actually exploded in Switzerland since the 2008 crisis. And you know, routinely they, they look at the crimes committed by the so-called whistleblower, and not at the crimes committed by their own banks.

DESVARIEUX: All right. James, can we sort of put Falciani's actions into context? As I stated in the introduction, we're talking about the largest theft of data in banking history. What is some specific information to come out of this data leak, and what would be especially relevant for those citizens looking for tax justice?

HENRY: Well in the case of, let's say Argentina, which has indicted HSBC for abetting tax dodging, or the Indian government, which is prosecuting HSBC for abetting tax dodging. Falciani has helped--the French, as well, for the same basic prosecution of HSBC. This is a case where this bank and many other large, global banks in the haven industry basically help the wealthiest people on the planet evade taxes and protect kleptocracy, stolen assets from their governments. Once those assets are parked in a Swiss account, or trust, or company, they're basically immune to the reach of their own governments. Falciani is I think, you know, just one of a number of whistleblowers who is helping to expose this behavior and bring it to light, and then try to put pressure on Switzerland to cut it out.

DESVARIEUX: Yeah. And I want to understand what's going to be next for Falciani. He's currently living in France, as you mentioned, working with the French government. But what is his future going to really look like?

HENRY: Well, he was an IT specialist here. I think, you know, it's--in general, whistleblowers pay a heavy price for their activities. You know, there have been a couple that have received large rewards in the United States. Bradley Birkenfeld. But in general a place like Switzerland, they're determined to go after them. And they made the lives of people like Rudy Elmer, another Swiss whistleblower, miserable.

So this kind of prosecutorial behavior on the part of the Swiss government really deserves to be resisted by other countries. But so far, you know, it's the whistleblowers that are paying the price here for exposing this outrageous industry.

DESVARIEUX: All right. James Henry joining us from New York. Thank you so much for being with us.

HENRY: You're quite welcome.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

South Africa: Criminality and Deep Rot in the ANC Will Continue Under New President Ramaphosa (2/2)
Do Russiagate Skeptics Go Too Far?
The Return of Berlusconi: Can A Fractured Left Defeat Him?
Potomac Pipeline Would Be 'Another Contradiction' From Larry Hogan
Police Union Keeps Audit Secret Despite Allegations of Massive Overtime Fraud
Guns, Toxic Masculinity, and the Alt-Right
Zuma's Catastrophic Presidency Ends in Forced Resignation (1/2)
Brother of Crooked Cop Says He Knows Who Killed Detective Suiter
Israeli Strikes in Egypt Kept Secret for Years
As the Opioid Crisis Deepens, Will Maryland Democrats Vote to Save Lives?
The Free Market Threat to Democracy
Finding a SALT Tax Deduction Workaround
Leader of Neo-Nazi Militia Says MAGA Hat-Wearing Florida Shooter Trained with Them
Charter School Principal: No Evidence Privatization Is Better For Students
Max Blumenthal in Gaza: Netanyahu Faces Scandal, Palestinians a Crisis
Trump's Infrastructure Fantasy a Gift to His Donors
Netanyahu Could Fall for Corruption, Not War Crimes
Climate Change Costs Insurance Companies Billions, And Price is Rising
Trump's Budget Declares War on Forgotten America
West Virginia Woman Removed From Legislature After Exposing Fossil Fuel Contributions to Lawmakers
Leftist Hopeful's Lead Signals Upheaval for Mexico
Wilkerson: From Trump Parade to Budget, There's 'Too Much Military'
Trump's Budget and Infrastructure Plans Threaten Environment
Catharsis and Corruption in Wake of Dirty Cop Conviction
Confronting Trudeau on Climate Lies and Kinder Morgan Pipeline
Two Cops Found Guilty In Massive Police Corruption Scandal
In First Black Police Chief's Appeal, Judges Weigh Prosecutorial Misconduct, Discrimination
City Council Committee Advances Styrofoam Ban, But Delays Implementation
Trump Privatizes America
Is the Oil Industry Canada's 'Deep State'?,, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting