October 28, 2015 / 11:47 AM / 5 years ago

HSBC whistleblower Falciani says won't attend Swiss trial

Former HSBC employee Herve Falciani pauses during a news conference in Divonne-les-Bains, France October 28, 2015. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

ZURICH (Reuters) - Herve Falciani, an ex-employee of HSBC’s Geneva private bank who leaked information on clients and their tax situation, said he would not attend his trial next week on charges of breaking Swiss bank secrecy rules.

Falciani said on Wednesday he would be willing to explain his position to a court in another country, for example the European Court of Human Rights.

“I won’t do it in Switzerland where the conditions for a just and fair trial are, in my opinion, not met,” Falciani told a news conference that was webcast from the French town of Divonne-les-Bains near the Swiss border.

HSBC’s Swiss unit has been in the spotlight since 2008, when Falciani, a former IT employee there, fled Geneva with files that were leaked to the media and are alleged to show evidence of tax evasion by clients. French daily Le Monde has said it identified more than 106,000 clients.

Falciani, who is based in France, is accused in Switzerland of unauthorized acquisition of data, financial espionage and violating Swiss bank and business secrecy rules.

He failed to appear at his initial Swiss hearing this month. The trial is scheduled to resume next week and legal experts have suggested he could be tried in absentia. There are no legal proceedings against him in France.

Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz and Joshua Franklin; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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