Another Whistleblower, Stephanie Gibaud, Offers to Help Government With Black Money Probe

Stephanie Gibaud, whistleblower and former employee of UBS France

Paris: A whistleblower called Stephanie Gibaud who is a former public relations officer of the bank UBS France has told NDTV in an exclusive interview in Paris that she can help India's black money investigation.

She is the second whistleblower to talk to NDTV after former HSBC employee Herve Falciani, who was behind the biggest banking secrecy leak ever.

Mr Falciani told NDTV on November 20, that he could help India get a great deal of additional information on HSBC as well as other banks. The government contacted him last week via NDTV in Paris. (Read)

Now Stephanie Gibaud has also told NDTV she'd be willing to come on board. Ms Gibaud was instrumental in recently  getting UBS an initial fine of 1.1 billion euros in an ongoing investigation in which the bank was charged with helping wealthy French clients hide black money in tax havens around the world.

Ms Gibaud said her job was to get them "things money can't buy", such as tickets of games that had been sold out for months or years or private concerts by renowned artists.

Even though Ms Gibaud had been working at the bank since 1999, it was only in 2008 that she discovered that she was part of something that was illicit. She said "no one except top level managers knows the full story often it's hard to piece together what's going on"

She realised that she was organizing exclusive events that were not just harmless entertainment but were in fact being organized to facilitate meetings for Swiss client advisors who were hunting for French clients to help them hide their wealth in order to cheat on tax authorities.

UBS had come under fire in the US the same year after Bradley Birkenfeld blew the whistle. Ms Gibaud got suspicious when her superiors starting pushing her to delete all the documents in her computer with tens of thousands of names of clients and client advisors as well as all her archives. When she asked for a reason she wasn't given one. She refused to delete the files and was harassed and isolated at the bank until she had to leave.

Ms Gibaud claims big banks offering illicit offshore services are actively looking to expand business in India. She said she has seen senior managers of the bank talk of expanding to BRICS countries. "It comes from the top management and they do business power point presentations that clearly explain where the wealth has going and which markets they could penetrate."

Ms Gibaud said teams and departments were being shifted to various emerging nations. "For example for UBS, the marketing hub is now in Mumbai," she said.

She offered to help India and said she could "explain very clearly" to investigators what strategy is used to approach clients, where and how they are approached and how "the bank penetrates all its networks everywhere on the planet and the focus is per country, per city, per network".

Ms Gibaud claims that apart from investigations in France and Belgium she is helping other countries she couldn't name because investigations are ongoing and could alert the bank.

After many years of living in hardship, the single mother of two was depressed but said she is now bouncing back.

She tells her story in her book released earlier this year called "La femme qui en savait vraiment trop (The woman who knew way too much)".

She said UBS tried but failed to prove her guilty in a defamation case. The bank is likely to pay more fines of billions of dollars in addition to the 1.1 billion euro of deposit.

Authorities approaching her for assistance is like "a reward" because it proves to the world that she was speaking the truth.

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