Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

WikiLeaks Banker Convicted of Breaching Swiss Financial Secrecy

(Bloomberg) — A Swiss banker who revealed details of client accounts via WikiLeaks was convicted Monday of violating the country’s financial secrecy laws but won’t have to serve time.

Rudolf Elmer, a former employee of Julius Baer Group Ltd., was given a suspended fine of 16,800 Swiss francs ($19,397) under a system that allows Swiss courts to convert prison time into a financial penalty. The Zurich district court said that if Elmer commits a crime in the next three years, he may have to pay the fine.

Prosecutors were seeking a prison term of three and a half years for Elmer, 59, who has led a years-long campaign to raise awareness of the use of Swiss bank accounts for illegal activity including tax evasion. Countries including the U.S., the U.K. and Germany have used testimony from former Swiss bankers or stolen client data to pursue offshore tax dodgers.

Elmer was found guilty of providing WikiLeaks with data on Julius Baer accounts that was published in 2008 in violation of Swiss law prohibing bankers from revealing confidential information about their clients. He was also convicted of forging a letter that accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of having a Swiss bank account.

The court found insufficient evidence to convict Elmer on charges of handing data to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at a news conference in London in 2011. It also cleared him on a charge of offering to reveal data to the German government.

The verdict didn’t appear to satisfy either side. Ganden Tethong, Elmer’s lawyer, said she would appeal. Prosecutor Peter Giger said he had not yet decided whether he would challenge the ruling.

Elmer worked at a unit of Julius Baer in the Cayman Islands until 2002. The former banker was detained in January 2011 and held about six months on a judge’s order after prosecutors argued that he might tamper with evidence. He has continued to campaign against an offshore banking network that he says enables wealthy people to hide money from authorities.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeffrey Vögeli in Zurich at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Elisa Martinuzzi at Cindy Roberts, Steve Bailey

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR