Herve Falciani, an ex-HSBC employee wanted in Switzerland on charges of stealing data on bank accounts, poses in a restaurant prior to an interview with Reuters in Paris July 17, 2013
Herve Falciani, an ex-HSBC employee wanted in Switzerland on charges of stealing data on bank accounts, poses in a restaurant prior to an interview with Reuters in Paris July 17, 2013Reuters

Switzerland has charged whistleblowing former HSBC systems engineer Hervé Falciani with industrial espionage for leaking details of bank accounts, where billions of euros worth of assets were hidden from tax authorities.

Switzerland's attorney general confirmed in a statement that it is charging the former bank employee with breaching the country's secrecy laws after he allegedly sought to profit from exposing sensitive customer information.

"Sometimes celebrated as a hero abroad, the Franco-Italian national is now to answer for his alleged crimes before a Swiss court. The Swiss Criminal Procedure Code does not exclude the possibility of holding a court trial of the accused person in absentia," said the attorney general's office in a statement.

Tax authorities in France, Italy, Spain and Germany have already used Falciani's leaked data to pursue billions of euros in lost taxes and have so far collected a total of €250m (£212.1m, $327m).

Falciani, who was born in Monaco but holds French and Italian citizenship, now lives in France. He worked in the IT department at HSBC from 2006 to 2008.

Falciani was initially on the run from Swiss authorities after they sought to charge him with stealing bank account data from his old employer HSBC in 2009.

There has been no public statement from Falciani or HSBC on the matter.