July 18 - A former IT analyst from banking group HSBC who provided French prosecutors with data on thousands of accounts says he hopes a Franco-Spanish tax avoidance probe will widen to other countries. Ciara Sutton reports.
Accompanied by three bodyguards employed by the French government - former HSBC IT analyst Herve Falciani is on a mission He's in Paris facing questions from French law makers trying to tighten rules against tax evasion. Falciani supplied them with thousands of accounts from his former employer, that he says show HSBC offered illicit products to help French clients avoid tax in Switzerland. He now wants Franco-Spanish tax avoidance inquiries to widen to other countries. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FORMER HSBC EMPLOYEE HERVE FALCIANI SAYING: "The investigations in various countries were blocked due to a lack of knowledge about the objective and the scale of the problem that we were facing, but after five years of a kind of stagnation in many cases, we will resume work now. And I actually hope that several countries will also take this opportunity with new directions and we will be able to verify this in the coming months." HSBC has disputed various aspects of Falciani's story - the bank says he tried to sell the data he absconded with and only cooperated with prosecutors once arrested in Spain. The bank has also denied any role in helping clients avoid tax. The investigation, launched in April, is one of the latest signs that governments are cracking down on tax evasion and money laundering. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FORMER HSBC EMPLOYEE HERVE FALCIANI SAYING: "It is a necessity to use the case involving HSBC as a key element in a more successful process of regulation and control of financial entities that are critical to our economy." Falciani, who has French and Italian citizenship collected data on HSBC account holders when he worked in its information technology department from 2006 to 2008. He fled to Spain from France in 2009 because he said he feared for his safety.