The one person facing criminal charges over HSBC is the man we have to thank

Posted on

It is, I think, widely agreed that it is a scandal that fewer prosecutions have resulted from the HSBC leaks than anyone could reasonably have expected. But as my friend and co-author Prof Ronen Palan has pointed out in a calm analysis on The Conversation web site, there is one person facing prosecution:

Last but not least, as in previous cases of such leaks, the person most likely to suffer from the leak is the whistleblower himself. Hervé Falciani, the former HSBC systems engineer who revealed the information. He has been on the run from Swiss authorities since breaking Swiss bank secrecy laws and is living under protection.

So, just as Antoine Deltour is now being prosecuted in Luxembourg at the behest of PWC so is the HSBC whistleblower having to live a life under threat.

If there's a lesson that comes out of this it is that a person revealing tax abuse has to be offered immunity from prosecution in international law. Justice demands it. In these cases, quite literally tax justice demands it.