The whistleblower at the centre of a banking row between France and Switzerland has blown his own cover to defend his actions.
Hervé Falciani handed over data on clients’ accounts at HSBC’s Geneva branch to French tax authorities and is under police protection in France.
He told French television he had not received any money for the information, which did not include names, and he was neither scared nor in hiding.
The former HSBC IT worker has been described by his lawyer as an idealist who wants to use transparency to fight financial crime.
Falciani himself said on French public television:
“If you discover that the layers of trusts and offshore accounts allow people to avoid paying tax or VAT and you understand that is what they are there for, what they are meant for, what do you do? Either you bury your head in the sand or you try to do something about it.”
French police are using the data to pin down money launderers with potential links to organised crime. The French taxman is also consulting the information.