Whistleblower Rudolf Elmer, who handed over two CDs to Assange in London yesterday, said he wanted to expose mass tax evasion before he flies back to Switzerland to stand trial accused of stealing information from a bank.
He claims the CDs contain information about 40 politicians, along with business people, multinational conglomerates and figures from the art world.
At the Frontline Club in London, Elmer gave Assange the CDs, which he said contained bank account details of “high net worth” individuals and businesses. He said those named in the documents are from Britain, the US, Germany, Austria, Asia and “all over”.
Elmer, a former executive at Julius Baer Bank, said he was releasing the data to educate society.
“I do think, as a 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. From that point of view, I wanted to let society know what I know. It is damaging our society.”
Assange, whose whistleblowing website is still working through a leaked cache of about 250,000 diplomatic memos, praised the ex-banker’s attempts to expose alleged shady practices in the financial industry. Assange, currently fighting extradition to Sweden where he faces sex offence allegations, said the names could be published on the WikiLeaks website in two weeks, once they have been verified.
Assange said: “We dealt with the Bank Julius Baer issue in 2008 — that’s when it had its peak of prominence. It is not a new issue for us.
“I have read some of Mr Elmer’s writings. He is clearly a bona fide whistleblower and therefore I feel, given the past involvement in the case, that we have some duty to support him on that matter.”
Elmer is due to appear before a Zurich regional court later this week to answer charges of coercion and violating Switzerland’s strict banking secrecy laws.
Assange said WikiLeaks could hand some of the information from Elmer to the Serious Fraud Office in London
He said that had been done before, with information about the Icelandic banking industry.