Whistleblower hands Assange offshore bank secrets

17th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

An offshore banking whistleblower on Monday personally handed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange two CDs reportedly containing the names of 2,000 bank clients who may have been evading taxes.

Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer, who worked for eight years in the Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, said he wanted the world to know the truth about money concealed in offshore accounts.

Elmer handed over the data at the Frontline Club in London -- WikiLeaks' British HQ -- as Assange put in a rare appearance away from the remote country house where he has been bailed to live while he awaits extradition proceedings.

"I am here today to support him," Assange told reporters.

"He is a whistleblower and he has important things to say."

The Australian said it would be weeks before any of the information could be checked and published on the WikiLeaks website.

Elmer declined to give the names of those on the CDs or say how many individuals were involved.

"The only hope I have is to get society to know what's going on," he said.

"I have been there, I have done the job, I know what the day-to-day business is, I know how much is documented there and how much is not.

"I am against the system. I know how the system works. I want to let society know how this system works because it's damaging our society.

"We're going to talk about the system and that's why I'm here.

"The money is hiding in offshore banking secret jurisdictions."

Assange is on bail in Britain awaiting Sweden's attempt to extradite him for questioning on sexual assault allegations.

A full extradition hearing will be heard at a London court on February 7-8.

In 2008 a former employee of Liechtenstein's biggest bank sold data on client accounts in the secretive Alpine banking haven to the German secret service for five million euros.

And last year officials in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia bought a computer disc for a reported 2.5 million euros with information on secret Swiss accounts.

As a result German tax authorities recovered 1.6 billion euros in 2010 from holders of the accounts, according to the weekly Der Spiegel.

© 2011 AFP

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