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Julian Assange vows to reveal tax details of 2,000 wealthy people

January 25, 2011
Esther Addley, The Guardian
1/17/2011

Swiss banker gives WikiLeaks founder data ‘to educate society’ about amount of potential tax revenues lost to offshore schemes

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, today pledged to make public the confidential tax details of 2,000 wealthy and prominent individuals, after being passed the data by a Swiss banker who claims the information potentially reveals instances of money-laundering and large-scale illegal tax evasion.

In a carefully choreographed handover in central London, Rudolf Elmer, formerly a senior executive at the Swiss bank Julius Baer, based in the Cayman islands, said he was handing the data to WikiLeaks as part of an attempt “to educate society” about the amount of potential tax revenues lost thanks to offshore schemes and money-laundering.

“As banker, I have the right to stand up if something is wrong,” he said. “I am against the system. I know how the system works and I know the day-to-day business. I want to let society know how this system works because it’s damaging our society,” he said.

Elmer will appear in a Swiss court on Wednesday charged with breaking Swiss banking secrecy laws, forging documents and sending threatening messages to two officials at his former employer.

He denies the charges.

He refused to comment on the period of time covered by the data, contained on two compact discs, or the precise source of the information; nor would he give the names of any corporations or individuals whose details he was handing over, saying that the information needed to be “investigated” before it was released into the public domain.

Assange, making his first public appearance since being bailed in December on sex assault allegations, for which Sweden is seeking his extradition, said he would pass the information to the Serious Fraud Office(SFO), examine it to ensure sources were protected, and then release it on the WikiLeaks site, potentially within “a couple of weeks”.

“Once we look at the data, yes, there will be full disclosure,” he said.

And now… the rest of the story. …..

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