Since the news broke Falciani’s escapade has focused on countries getting their hands on the stolen data. However, I wish to comment here on the person: Herve Falciani himself.
Herve Falciani. Photo from: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/27369
According to my doctoral research (2010 see website for more details) it is possible that Falciani is showing signs of the Predator type of fraudster. A Predator (who could have a psychopathic personality) will show the following behaviour:
1) Their sense of superiority is maintained throughout the post discovery phase: Falciani has given frequent interviews with the media and online, giving his version over the banks and the Swiss Police.
2) The Predator will adapt the truth to his or circumstances and has no hesitation in doing it. Falciani has changed his story from being a whistleblower to being interrogated by Mossad, to just wanting to expose to HSBC the risks in their data protection system. He also has lied that he only copied the data. In a logic defying statement to the Le Matin Dimanche newspaper he says: “I’m not against banking secrecy,” he told the newspaper. “On the contrary, I say there is none. HSBC clients were deceived, and harmed, because of a lack of computing standards.”
3) Predators will drag out legal proceedings as long as possible, in a bid to outrun their opponents. The discovery of Falciani’s theft was back in 2007, and the story is not over by any means.
4) Predators will show no signs of genuine remorse. Falciani has not said he was sorry for the theft from HSBC.
This brings up another issue that most whistleblowers would have copied the data but not stolen it – there is no point, a copy is enough to go public with. Falciani went to several governments to sell his stolen information.
From research by Lynn Clements (2005 Clements, L. 2005. Whistleblowing: Who, what, when, where, why and how? Journal of Forensic Accounting 6 (2): 429-440): “A universal truth about whistleblowers is that all whistleblowers act at moral risk to themselves, and most pay a heavy price. In a year-long discussion group of 12 whistleblowers, all but one lost both his or her job and career, eight lost their homes, seven lost their families, and many suffered from alcoholism and depression at some point after blowing the whistle.”
Rather than seeing Falciani suffering we see him delighting audiences around the world on TV and online.
Finally there is the observation that this man is inconsistent in his recounting of what has happened to him. At best my typology of a malevolent manager would fit, at worst we have a sinister fraudster on our hands.
Easy enough to identify after the horse has bolted…
Predators (and the other type of fraudster) can now be relatively easily uncovered beforehand using screening and profiling techniques. Ideally this would have happened at the point of entry into the organisation – in Falciani’s case in 2006. Then again when he was the senior manager in charge of the migration to a more secure IT environment, achieved circa 2006-07. In this manner an assessment would have discovered a likelihood of the planned theft and internal security and senior management could have minimised the risk. Unfortunately for HSBC, I had not completed my research and these identifiers were not known at that point.