Boules habit blows cover of Swiss fugitive in France

A Swiss financier suspected of money laundering who was on the run in the south of France for two years has been caught playing pétanque.

Boules habit blows cover of Swiss fugitive in France
Photo: Soren Oxenhave

The 62-year-old was arrested by French police on Tuesday in Saint-Raphaël near Fréjus on the Côte d’Azur, reported French newspaper Var Matin on Thursday.

Wanted by Swiss police for drug-related money laundering of several hundred thousand francs, he was the subject of an international arrest warrant after fleeing from Switzerland.

Since May 2014 he had been passing for a homeless man in Saint-Raphaël, and even took a bed in an emergency shelter, said the paper.

But he was caught on Tuesday after police were informed that a man fitting his description played the popular French game of pétanque – or boules – each afternoon at a local recreation area in the town.

“At the beginning of the week we received information that this man was often at a boules ground in Saint-Raphaël,” a police source told news agency ATS.

“After carrying out surveillance, we were able to confirm that this was the right man and we arrested him.

He acknowledged he was the subject of a warrant,” the source said.

On Wednesday he appeared before the public prosecutor of Aix-en-Provence, which will decide whether to extradite him to Switzerland.


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Hackers post French hospital patient data online

Hackers who crippled a French hospital and stole a trove of data last month have released personal records of patients online, officials have confirmed.

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

The cyberattackers demanded a multimillion dollar ransom from the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital near Paris a month ago, but the institution refused to pay.

The hospital said the hackers had now dumped medical scans and lab analyses along with the social security numbers of patients.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the unspeakable disclosure of hacked data,” health minister François Braun tweeted on Sunday.

Hospitals around the world have been facing increasing attacks from ransomware groups, particularly since the pandemic stretched resources to breaking point.

The problem has been acute in France, where officials estimated early last year that healthcare institutions were facing on average an attack every week.

President Emmanuel Macron last year called the attacks during the pandemic a “crisis within a crisis” and announced an extra one billion euros for cybersecurity.

During last month’s attack, the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital shut down its emergency services and sent many patients to other institutions.

At one point, officials said the only technology still working was the telephone.

Rather than selling the trove of data, the hacker has dumped at least some of it for download on the “dark web” — a hidden part of the internet that requires special software to access.

Analysts said it seemed to be a tactic to put pressure on the hospital, even though public institutions are banned by French law from paying ransoms.

Cybersecurity researcher Damien Bancal, who revealed the leak and has seen the files, told AFP the worry is that other criminals will now launch scams with the data that has already been divulged.

In response to the leak on the weekend, the hospital severely restricted access to its systems and told patients to be extremely vigilant when receiving emails, text messages or phone calls.