LONDON — A former banker behind a previous disclosure by secrets outlet WikiLeaks has turned over a second, larger set of data detailing thousands of Swiss bank accounts, according to claims made at a news conference in London on Monday.
Standing outside the Frontline Club where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was under house arrest, former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer released two optical discs he said carried files showing massive, unmitigated tax evasion by American, Asian and European individuals and corporations.
He said that many of the records dealt with accounts held by organized criminals, politicians and celebrities around the world.
Elmer, who once worked for the Swiss Bank Julius Baer and later founded the Swiss Whistleblower website, told assembled members of the press that WikiLeaks was “my only hope to get society to know what’s going on.”
“[It] is damaging our society in the way that money is moved,” he added.
Assange said it would be “a matter of weeks” before the records are released, “assuming the data is correct and once we have a look at it.”
Elmer faced a court hearing Tuesday over his first major release of data to WikiLeaks, which occurred in 2007. He left Bank Julius Baer in 2004, after eight years working for a branch in the Cayman Islands. He’s since claimed that many of Baer’s top clients engaged in tax fraud with the knowing assistance of the bank’s management.
Officials at Baer have said that Elmer’s claims were manufactured and that he falsified documents.
In a similar case, Assange disclosed in 2009 that WikiLeaks had acquired a 5-gigabyte cache of files from Bank of America. The bank, which is America’s largest, denied wrongdoing and immediately hired a team of internal investigators to determine what information the site may have.
Bank of America, along with PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and Amazon.com have all since refused to conduct any business with WikiLeaks. Assange called their actions a “new form of business McCarthyism.”
This video is from Reuters, courtesy of Mediaite.
Photo credit: Carl de Souza, AFP.