A whistle-blowing former Swiss bank executive has handed over two CDs containing the names and account holdings of more than 2,000 high net worth American, European and Asian customers to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Rudolf Elmer, who is facing charges of breaching banking secrecy laws, turned over the CDs to Assange during a press conference Monday in London, according to BBC News. Elmer was reportedly fired from Julius Baer in 2002. He had previously handed over data to WikiLeaks from the bank, which the site published in 2008. Assange said WikiLeaks would verify and release the information, including the names, in as little as two weeks.
The information reportedly contains details on the bank accounts of 40 politicians, along with business executives, celebrities, organized crime figures, and two other major banks besides Julius Baer, according to ABC News.
Assange said the earlier information shed light on the tax evasion activities carried out at the Swiss bank as well as the “protection of assets of those about to fall out of political favor.”
“I want to let society know how this system works,” Elmer said at the news conference, according to ABC. “It’s damaging society.”
The bank dismissed Elmer as a “disgruntled” former employee. “Evidently disgruntled and frustrated about unfulfilled career aspirations, Mr. Elmer exhibited behavior that was detrimental and unacceptable for the bank, which led to termination of the employment relationship,” said Julius Baer in a statement released to BBC News. “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 Internal Revenue Service received information last year from another Swiss bank, UBS, on over 4,000 U.S. account holders after an agreement was struck between the U.S. and Swiss governments on sharing the information. The IRS has set up a unit to pursue investigations of high net worth individuals who are hiding assets abroad.
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