WikiLeaks may delay release of Swiss bank data

18 Jan 2011

The material Swiss bank whistle-blower Rudolf Elmer provided to whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks this week is unlikely to be made public on the website any time soon, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and sources close to Elmer have reportedly said.

Elmer is the former chief of the office of the Julius Baer Bank in the Cayman Islands. In London on Monday, he handed Assange a couple of discs said to contain information on some 2,000 offshore banking clients, Reuters reported.

WikiLeaks is treating this information like any other it receives, Assange said, adding “it could be weeks” or longer before the content is made public because WikiLeaks and media organisations would review the discs.

Sources have said the content is dense and possibly contains recognisable names.

Elmer’s adviser, Jack Blum, a former Congressional investigator and Washington lawyer, said that even if account holders’ identities can be confirmed, it does not constitute evidence that they are engaged in offshore tax evasion.

Julius Baer fired Elmer in 2002. He is to go on trial in Switzerland tomorrow (19 January) for allegedly breaching bank secrecy. Information he allegedly leaked includes material on alleged offshore tax evasion abuses, published by WikiLeaks.

The prosecution is unfair, Elmer and his lawyer maintain, because the material Elmer allegedly leaked originated in the Cayman Islands, where Swiss authorities arguably lack jurisdiction.