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Banking secrets handed to WikiLeaks
Former Swiss banker passes on details of alleged tax evasion by politicians, celebrities and business leaders.
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2011 17:59 GMT
Elmer, right, says he hopes the documents will call attention to offshore financial abuses [Reuters]

A former Swiss banker has passed on documents allegedly detailing tax evasion attempts by hundreds of business leaders, politicians and celebrities to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

Rudolf Elmer, an ex-employee of Swiss-based private bank Julius Baer, handed over two CDs containing the data to Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, at a press conference in London on Monday.

The disks are thought to contain details of 2,000 individuals.

Elmer has said the information includes details on politicians, multinational companies and financial institutions from the United States, Europe and Asia, all secretly avoiding paying tax.

"I do think as a banker I have the right to stand up if something is wrong," Elmer said, addressing reporters at London's Frontline Club, alongside Assange.

"I am against the system. I know how the system works and I know the day-to-day business. From that point of view, I wanted to let society know what I know. It is damaging our society."

Assange promised "full revelation" of the data, but said it would be weeks before any of the information could be checked and published by the WikiLeaks website.

Vetting will be done by Wikileaks, media organisations and other partners in order to protect sources, Assange said.

Banker accused

Elmer, who once headed Julius Baer's offices in the Cayman Islands, previously offered files to WikiLeaks on offshore financial activities in 2007, leading to tax evasion prosecutions in several countries.

He faces a court hearing in Zurich on Wednesday to answer charges of coercion and violating Switzerland's strict banking secrecy laws.

He has said he wants to call attention to offshore financial abuses and promote WikiLeaks as a mechanism for other whistleblowers to air their stories.

But his former employer has hit back, claiming Elmer, who the bank fired in 2002, has other motives.

"After his demands [including financial compensation] in connection with the dismissal could not be satisfied, Mr Elmer embarked in 2004 on a personal intimidation campaign and vendetta against Julius Baer," the bank said in a statement.

"The aim of his activities was and is to discredit Julius Baer as well as clients in the eyes of the public."

Assange, whose website has angered Washington by releasing thousands of leaked US diplomatic cables, is on bail in Britain awaiting Swedish attempts to extradite him for questioning on sexual assault allegations.

Under his bail conditions, the WikiLeaks founder must live at the mansion home of Vaughan Smith, the owner of the Frontline Club.

He has promised the flow of leaked documents will be stepped up.

Source:
Agencies
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