Wikileaks has been getting into Swiss banking for a variety of reasons that include banking services for Wikileaks, Swiss banks closing Wikileaks accounts and more. A banker named Rudolf Elmer has a history of offering Cayman Island banking information that he has collected, with Wikileaks as his first successful release. Elmer is a former employee of the Swiss bank, Julius Baer.
According to the Huffington Post and other news outlets, Elmer claims to have over 2,000 records of bank customers of banking in the Cayman Islands. Among other shady dealings, major evidence of tax evasion has been promised. Baer announced that while there are 2,000 records, the complicated structure of trusts and corporations make it difficult to tell where actual individuals are involved or could be singled out for legal or criminal action.
While Elmer refused to give any specific details about the 2,000 records, there are chances that the information could either be forwarded to government agencies such as the British Tax Authority, could be given to Bloomberg or the Financial Times, or could simply be released a bit at a time whenever Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, wants to stay in the public spotlight.
Elmer is scheduled to go on trial on Wednesday for violating Switzerland’s banking secrecy regulations where he seeks to “challenge Swiss Bank Secrecy at the European Court of Human Rights and the Swiss courts,” according to a CNN.com report.
He says that he started his investigations when he was a banker in the Cayman Islands. He worked at six offshore banks over time and is describing his actions as being for the good of all:
“…to let society know what I do know and how this system works because it is damaging our society in the way that money is moved”.
Baer states that he was driven to try Wikileaks as an outlet when tax authorities and universities showed no interest in his material.
The announcement was made at a news conference in London, where two discs were handed over to Assange. Assange said that the information could be released in a few weeks, depending on the time that it would take to “process” the content.
The overriding concern has always been that Swiss banking secrecy, once billed as a way to hide Jewish assets from the Nazis, has become the business of global tax avoidance and other money hiding schemes that undermine the ability of governments to collect taxes or to know about the hidden assets of their citizens.
The US has been fighting the Swiss secrecy system for a while with rising concerns that the ways that systemic tax avoidance schemes in Swiss banking undermine the revenue collection and legal authority of many nations.
The US has also been fighting Wikileaks since the release of classified state documents where a foreigner targeted only the US. Many in the US do not realize that protections for government classified material or for private records can apply to all, not just those who are citizens or who are in service with the government. This has all created a complex environment of belief, rumor and opinion. The most prominent opinion could be the mixed opinion that it is a good time to expose government and corporate wrongdoing, but not if the exposure causes harm to innocent people, to allies, or to a nation’s interests.