Offshore account details given to Wikileaks

A former Swiss banker turned whistleblower has presented Wikileaks with two discs of offshore bank account details he says name potential fraudsters.

The exchange between the website’s founder Julian Assange and Rudolf Elmer, a former executive at Julius Baer Bank, one of Switzerland’s leading private banks, took place at a press conference in London’s Frontline Club today.

The discs are believed to contain the account details of about 2,000 prominent people, institutions and financial firms said to be involved in financial fraud.

Elmer said the data included account details for about 40 politicians and information from three banks including Julius Baer.

The Frontline Club, which promotes independent journalism, said Elmer would “reveal more details of alleged abuses in the world of offshore financial centres.”

Assange said the data would be vetted and then fully disclosed.

This is the second time that Elmer has given secret documents to Wikileaks, after first sharing details with the website in 2007.

Elmer, who was chief operating officer at Julius Baer in the Cayman Islands before being sacked in 2002 under suspicion of having taken bank files, is due to stand trial on Wednesday 19 January for breaching Swiss bank secrecy laws.

The bank alleges that he forged the information given to Wikileaks in 2007 to suggest tax evasion.

At the press conference he described how illicit money was funnelled into secret offshore accounts.

"I'm against the system. I know how the system works," he said.

He said his family had faced extreme pressure after he blew the whistle on the practices, and he had been offered money in exchange for his silence.