A whistleblower who leaked data exposed tax-evading and money-laundering clients at the multinational financial institution he worked in has just given the finger to the banks once again by lending his efforts to increasing cryptocurrency awareness.
Herve Falciani, the former computer systems analyst at banking giant HSBC, is now promoting a cryptocurrency known as Taboow, according to Bloomberg. The anti-fraud activist who is currently in Spain awaiting a court decision on whether he will be extradited to Switzerland where he has already been sentenced to a five-year jail sentence for industrial espionage is working with Spanish partners in the initiative.
Already, the cryptocurrency project has received an investment commitment of several million euros even as it plans on raising more. According to Falciani, there is a need to ‘democratize finance’ by increasing access to more people across the globe.
“Cryptocurrencies open finance to allow it to expand and not just remain in the hands of the few,” Falciani said in a statement.
The incident which has made Falciani a fugitive of Switzerland occurred in 2009 when secret bank files that he had stolen were leaked to the then finance minister of France, the current International Monetary Fund managing director, Christine Lagarde. The leak which was dubbed the largest in the history of banking contained account information belonging to around 130,000 wealthy clients of HSBC as well as legal entities.
While the Swiss considered this a crime, Flaciani entered a cooperation deal with France with a view of solving a tax evasion inquiry involving French citizens who were using the Swiss subsidiary of the financial services giant, HSBC Private Bank to launder money and evade taxes. Last year in November HSBC agreed to pay 300 million euros to settle the matter. Other countries that benefited from the leak included Argentina, Austria, Belgium and Spain. The latter managed to recover US$360 million in unpaid tax.
A Decade Since…
The development comes just as the world is marking ten years after the global financial crisis which was sparked by the excesses of the banking sector. The crisis is believed to have heavily influenced Satoshi Nakamato, the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin, who inserted the newspaper headline "Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks." in the first block of bitcoin that was mined. This was in reference to the Bank of England’s plans to pump more money into troubled financial institutions in the U.K.
Besides his new gig promoting a cryptocurrency, Falciani has tried his hand at politics in Spain and this saw him vie for a post on a ticket of the anti-corruption X Party.
Featured image from YouTube/BBC.