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Simona Levi: Bringing Down the Banks
David Gonz¡Lez/EFE/ZUMA4/25

Simona Levi: Bringing Down the Banks

Imagine if Occupy Wall Street had actually brought bankers to justice. That, in essence, is what Simona Levi and Xnet, her collective of digital activists, did in Spain. In 2012, following a year of massive protests against inequality and government corruption, Levi set her sights on a Spanish bank whose near-collapse led to a multibillion-dollar European Union bailout. Her group uncovered 8,000 e-mails sent by employees of Caja Madrid and Bankia, revealing "black" credit cards executives used to secretly spend millions on personal travel, parties and luxury items. This year, dozens of the companies' former directors and board members received prison sentences and fines. Another case, spurred by Levi's initiative, charged 33 Bankia executives with misrepresenting the bank's finances. It's a model of activists holding industry accountable that Levi continues to share at protests, seminars and art projects around the world. "To empower people, we need them to know that fighting is worth it," she says. "Optimism is our best revenge." GB

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