Yesterday, French-Italian whistleblower Hervé Falciani was arrested in Spain. Falciani worked as an IT specialist at the Swiss spin-off of HSBC. In 2006 and 2007 he passed on the data of more than 100,000 wealthy clients to the then French Minister of Finance, Christine Lagarde. The French government shared the data with its EU counterparts including Spain, Germany and Greece resulting in considerable additional revenue of around 135 billion euros. The arrest was made at the request of the Swiss judiciary, which demands his extradition. Falciani has been sentenced to imprisonment in Switzerland.
Sven Giegold, spokesperson for the Greens / EFA Group on Transparency and Integrity, calls for the denial of extradition, and EU-wide protection for whistleblowers:
“Falciani deserves a European Order instead of imprisonment in Switzerland. He was one of the first whistleblowers to pioneer the fight against global tax fraud, followed by many disclosures in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and other tax havens. We should be grateful to him. Europe’s governments should call on the Spanish government not to extradite Falciani. His extradition would be shamefully ungrateful after having profited from his data financially and politically.
Falciani is a forerunner of tax justice and must be released. The Spanish government should not extradite him. Making illegal trafficking public is not an offense and needs to be properly protected in Europe. The European Commission promised months ago to present a guideline for the protection of whistleblowers. The Falciani case reiterates the urgent need for the comprehensive protection of whistleblowers in the European Union. In Spain, there is no legal protection of whistleblowers. The European Commission must finally deliver whistleblower protection.”
In 2016, the Greens / EFA Group submitted a draft directive on the protection of whistleblowers. The design can be found here: https://www.greens-efa.eu/en/article/whistle-blowers-directive/