Ex-Swiss banker to hand account files to WikiLeaks

LONDON – A former Swiss banker was on Monday due to hand over files to WikiLeaks which he alleges detail attempts by wealthy business leaders and lawmakers to evade tax payments.

Rudolf Elmer, a former employee of Swiss-based Bank Julius Baer, told Britain’s Observer newspaper on Sunday that the documents include details of about 2,000 accounts held in offshore financial centers. He says the account holders include “high net worth” celebrities, business leaders and lawmakers from the U.S., Britain and Asia.

Elmer, who has previously leaked banking documents to the secret-spilling site, was scheduled to hold a news conference later Monday at London’s Frontline Club with a WikiLeaks representative. Vaughan Smith, the owner of the Frontline Club, said he couldn’t say who the representative would be.

Smith’s 10-bedroom mansion in eastern England has been serving as a makeshift headquarters for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange since he was released on bail on Dec. 16. Assange has compared his bail conditions — which largely confine him to Smith’s home — to “high-tech house arrest,” but has recently promised that the flow of leaked documents would increase.

Elmer’s press conference comes two days before he is due to appear before a Zurich regional court to answer charges of coercion and violating Switzerland’s strict banking secrecy laws.

He told the Observer newspaper he planned to disclose the new set of files to expose activities in offshore financial centers. “The one thing on which I am absolutely clear is that the banks know, and the big boys know, that money is being secreted away for tax-evasion purposes,” he was quoted as telling the newspaper. – Associated Press