WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange took delivery Monday of a disc reportedly containing confidential bank account details of 2,000 rich and famous individuals and corporations from a former Swiss banker and whistleblower.
Rudolf Elmer, a former employee of Swiss-based Bank Julius Baer, produced the CD and said he wanted to disclose details of mass tax evasion before he flies back to Switzerland to stand trial accused of stealing information from a bank.
Although he has not named those involved, he claims the CD contains information about 40 politicians. Other clients include business people, multinational conglomerates and "people who have made their living in the arts." He won't name any of the people involved nor will he disclose where they are from.
'I wanted to let everybody know what I know'
"I do think as a banker I have the right to stand up if something is wrong," said Elmer, who addressed reporters at London's Frontline Club alongside Assange on Monday. "I am against the system. I know how the system works and I know the day-to-day business. From that point of view, I wanted to let society know what I know. It is damaging our society," Elmer said. He claims his previous disclosures showed evidence of major tax avoidance in the Caribbean.
Assange praised the former banker's attempts to expose alleged shady practices in the financial industry. He was making a rare public appearance since he was released on bail on Dec. 16 following his arrest on a Swedish extradition warrant.
With WikiLeaks focused on other issues — such as the publication of its cache of about 250,000 diplomatic cables, it could be several weeks before Elmer's latest files are reviewed and posted on the organization's website, Assange said.
The organization has posted about 2,444 cables to the internet since it began publishing the documents in November.
Assange said the Financial Times and Bloomberg are possible candidates that could be given the information ahead of time. The files, or parts of the files, may also be provided to British government fraud investigators, he said.