Ex-Swiss banker hands over files to WikiLeaks

A former Swiss banker on Monday handed over documents to WikiLeaks that he claims detail attempts by wealthy business leaders and lawmakers to evade tax payments.

This content was published on January 24, 2011 - 09:21 and agencies

Rudolf Elmer, a former employee of Bank Julius Bär, said the account holders included “high net worth” celebrities, business leaders and lawmakers from the United States, Britain and Asia.

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, appeared with Elmer in London to collect the files, and praised the ex-banker’s attempts to expose alleged shady practices in the financial industry.

Assange said that, with his organisation now publishing about 250,000 diplomatic cables, it could be several weeks before Elmer's files are reviewed and posted on the WikiLeaks website.

Elmer, who has previously leaked banking documents to WikiLeaks, which posts confidential information on its site from mainly anonymous sources, told journalists that he wanted to expose the offshore banking system. “I want to let society know how this system works. It's damaging society,” he said.

His decision to release the new files to WikiLeaks comes two days before he is due to appear before a Zurich regional court to answer charges of coercion and violating Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws.

Elmer said he would not reveal what specifically was in the documents, and said that he personally would not disclose “individual companies or individual names” of the account holders.

Assange has made few public appearances since he was released on bail on December 16 following his arrest on an extradition warrant issued by Sweden.

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