GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – A well-known Greek journalist provoked police to arrest him in a suburb of Athens Sunday 28 October after he published the names of more than 2,000 Greek residents who are on an old list of HSBC Geneva bank accounts.
The list was reportedly given to the Greek government by the French government after HSBC computer employee Hervé Falciani famously stole, in 2008, and admitted to stealing, data on 24,000 account holders at the Geneva branch of the bank. He had earlier tried to sell the information to Lebanon, unsuccessfully, but finally convinced France to buy it.
Kostas Vaxevanis tweeted his location Sunday, inviting police to arrest him. His magazine, HotDoc, published the list of Greek account holders last week, noting that having their names on the list did not necessarily mean they had committed crimes, something only the tax authorities could determine. Two former finance ministers who held the data have said they believed it could not be used, since it was obtained illegally, and the lists were therefore not turned over to tax collection authorities.
A French high court in January 2012 ruled that the stolen data could not be used by tax collectors there because it was obtained illegally. But France had already shared at least some of the data with several other countries, including Greece, Germany and Italy.