Swiss banker gives ‘tax evasion’ secrets to WikiLeaks

Sunday, January 16, 2011

LONDON - A Swiss banker-turned-whistleblower said he will hand over the secret offshore bank account details of 2,000 “high net worth individuals” and “hedge funds” of global financial institutions to WikiLeaks.

Rudolf Elmer, will reveal the details of “massive potential tax evasion” before WikiLeaks here Monday, two days before going to his home country to face trial Jan 19 over charges of violating Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws, the Guardian reported Sunday. He faces up to three years in prison.

The details will be contained in CDs presented to WikiLeaks at the Frontline Club in London. Those involved include “approximately 40 politicians”, Elmer was quoted as saying.

Elmer, who is returning to Switzerland from exile in Mauritius, is a former chief operating officer in the Cayman Islands and employee of the powerful Julius Baer bank, which accuses him of stealing the information.

He is also one of a small band of employees and executives seeking to blow the whistle on what they see as unprofessional, immoral and even potentially criminal activity by powerful international financial institutions.

Along with the City of London and Wall Street, Switzerland is a fortress of banking and financial services, but famously secretive and expert in the concealment of wealth from all over the world for tax evasion and other extra-legal purposes, the British daily said.

Elmer says he is releasing the information “in order to educate society”. The list includes “high net worth individuals”, multinational conglomerates and financial institutions - hedge funds”. They are said to be “using secrecy as a screen to hide behind in order to avoid paying tax”. They come from the US, Britain, Germany, Austria and Asia - “from all over”.

Clients include “business people, politicians, people who have made their living in the arts and multinational conglomerates - from both sides of the Atlantic”.

Elmer says: “Well-known pillars of society will hold investment portfolios and may include houses, trading companies, artwork, yachts, jewellery, horses, and so on.”

He said: “I have worked for major banks other than Julius Baer, and the one thing on which I am absolutely clear is that the banks know, and the big boys know, that money is being secreted away for tax-evasion purposes, and other things such as money-laundering - although these cases involve tax evasion.”

Elmer was held in custody for 30 days in 2005, and is charged with breaking Swiss bank secrecy laws, forging documents and sending threatening messages to two officials at Julius Baer.

The bank issued a statement Friday saying: “The aim of (Elmer’s) activities was, and is, to discredit Julius Baer as well as clients in the eyes of the public. With this goal in mind, Elmer spread baseless accusations and passed on unlawfully acquired, respectively retained, documents to the media, and later also to WikiLeaks. To back up his campaign, he also used falsified documents.”

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