Spain's National Police has arrested Hervé Falciani, a former systems engineer for HSBC convicted of leaking a list of alleged tax evaders. Agents of the Comisaría General de Policía Judicial arrested him in accordance with an outstanding extradition warrant from Swiss authorities, police sources have told news agency Efe.
Falciani's arrest comes just after Spain issued a number of extradition warrants against exiled Catalan politicians, including ERC's secretary general, Marta Rovira, who left for Switzerland almost two weeks ago. Spain's move has been interpreted as an attempt to pressure Switzerland into granting her extradition. Falciani was left free by the National Audience court in 2013, since when he has moved freely between a number of European countries.
Switzerland, so far, had shown itself as being opposed to political extraditions, which would affect Rovira's case and also former CUP deputy Anna Gabriel, although the latter is only subject to an arrest warrant in Spanish territory.
According to police sources, Falciani had been sought by the police since 19th March, when the international arrest warrant was received from Switzerland. Agents found him this Wednesday in Madrid as he headed to an event at Comillas Pontifical University. Specifically, he was scheduled to take part in a debate called "When telling the truth is heroic: bringing to light fiscal hideouts" with participation of journalists and the technician's union of Spain's tax ministry, organised by the Platform for Fiscal Justice.
Falciani had previously been arrested at Barcelona's port in July 2012 for having leaked details of 130,000 bank accounts belonging to citizens of 180 countries he obtained from HSBC, who he worked for in Geneva. In May 2013, however, Spain's National Audience court decided against extraditing him to Spain, saying that the information he revealed "refers to activities suspected of illegality, even constituting criminal infractions, which in no way is open to legal protection".
Thanks to the so-called Falciani List, which Spain's tax office received in May 2010, the identities of some 659 Spanish tax evaders were revealed, and Spain managed to regularise 300 million euros.