2,000 super-rich from all over the world are sh*tting their pants right now. Julian Assange has personally obtained cd-roms with banking information from the high-profile Swiss bank Julius Baer. Former head of the Cayman Islands office of that bank, Rudolf Elmer (picture above), gave the disks to Julian Assange at a press conference today. The data will allegedly reveal tax evasion on a grand scale by the individuals. There are supposedly 40 politicians and “pillars of society” on the list. This is a nice opportunity for Assange to improve his tarnished reputation. According to the New York Times:
[Elmer] told The Observer newspaper over the weekend that those named in the documents come from “the U.S., Britain, Germany, Austria and Asia — from all over,” and include “business people, politicians, people who have made their living in the arts and multinational conglomerates — from both sides of the Atlantic.”
Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks would verify and release the information, including the names, in as little as two weeks. He suggested possible partnerships with financial news organizations and said he would consider turning the information over to Britain’s Serious Fraud Office, a government agency that investigates financial corruption.
Mr. Elmer said he had turned to WikiLeaks to educate society about what he considers an unfair system designed to serve the rich and aid money launderers after his offers to provide the data to universities and governments were spurned and, in his opinion, the Swiss media failed to cover the substance of his allegations. “The man in the street needs to know how this system works,” he said, referring to the offshore trusts that many “high net worth individuals” across the world use to evade taxes.
On Monday, Mr. Elmer declined say how he had obtained the documents, which were on two CDs. He faces trial in Switzerland on Wednesday on charges of stealing the information from the bank. He was held for 30 days in 2005 over allegations that he violated Swiss banking secrecy laws, falsified documents and sent threatening messages to two people at the bank.
WikiLeaks and Bank Julius Baer previously clashed in early 2008 when the anti-secrecy organization published hundreds of documents pertaining to its offshore activities. On that occasion, it did not identify the 15 individuals concerned. But the bank succeeded, briefly, in gaining a court order to shut down the WikiLeaks.org Web site anyway. The injunction was subsequently overturned and the case was dropped.