The “Lagarde List” of tax evaders with money at the Swiss branch of HSBC is proving to be a treasure trove of information linking secret bank accounts to politicians in Europe, first in Greece and now in Spain.
Herve Falciani, the HSBC whistleblower who released the list of 130,000 tax evaders, is now cooperating with authorities in a number of European countries. He may be able to strengthen the ongoing case against Spain’s Popular Party (PP), now embroiled in the so-called Gurtel Affair, according to reports.
The Gurtel Affair revolves around ruling People’s Party treasurer Luis Barcenas. He allegedly took envelopes of cash which he then passed on to PP politicians in return for lucrative government contracts. He reportedly handled up to €1.3 million in bribes and had up to €22 million stashed in secret foreign bank accounts. Barcenas’ alleged handwritten account slips documenting bribe amounts and intended recipients implicated Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy.
Falciani’s list of tax evaders reportedly includes the names of numerous PP officials. His cooperation with Spanish authorities could lead to many prosecutions and reveal the amounts of money being stashed abroad. Investigations into 300 Spanish accounts from 2010 to 2011 have already uncovered €300 million Euros, which could be the tip of the iceberg.
Falciani’s list has already exposed many high profile tax evaders, including several Greek politicians who stashed bribe proceeds in the Swiss branch of HSBC.
Spain is currently gripped in a financial crisis that has resulted in unemployment and growing discontent with austerity measures. News of corruption scandals have further destabilised Spain’s ruling institutions, including the ruling party, prime minister and the royal family who are also embroiled in an unrelated corruption case.
Melanie Lansakara is a researcher for ethiXbase.