WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today vowed to reveal confidential details of rich and famous individuals after taking delivery of a dossier from a former Swiss banker.
Whistleblower Rudolf Elmer, who handed over two CDs to Assange in London this morning, said he wanted to expose 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 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 presented Assange with the CDs, which he said contained bank account details of “high net worth” individuals and businesses.
Elmer, a former executive at Julius Baer Bank, said he was releasing the information to educate society. Those named in the documents, he added, are from Britain, the US, Germany, Austria, Asia and “all over”.
“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.
The names could be published on the WikiLeaks website in two weeks, once they have been verified, Assange added.
The handover came as lawyers for Assange, who is currently fighting extradition to Sweden where he faces sex offence allegations, were accused of inadvertently naming two women who claim he raped them.
Solicitors acting on behalf of the 39-year-old suspect included the details in legal documents posted on their website. The documents outline the skeleton argument why the former computer hacker should not be extradited.
In what is thought to be his first public engagement since he was given bail, Assange said today: “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.
Australian Assange was arrested in London last month on a Swedish extradition warrant.
He has vowed to fight extradition and suggested he is being deliberately targeted because of the WikiLeaks diplomatic cable disclosures, which have angered the US authorities in particular.
Under the terms of his bail, Assange must live at the mansion home of Vaughan Smith, the owner of the Frontline Club.
Assange said the time it would take to release the documents online depended on how much information was provided by Elmer.
He said: “We will treat this information like all other information we get, so yes I presume, once we have looked at the data, there will be a full revelation.
“If we can delegate the matter appropriately, it could be a couple of weeks, if not it will take longer.”
He said WikiLeaks may call on other organisations such as the Tax Justice Network, the Financial Times or Bloomberg to help gather a greater understanding of the data before it is published.
WikiLeaks published data about the bank in 2008 which resulted in lawyers for Julius Baer seeking an injunction to have wikileaks.org “seized and destroyed”, said the Australian.
“That case was a resounding success for us and the bank lost their injunction on first amendment grounds,” said Assange.
He added that WikiLeaks was currently “involved in preliminary actions against Visa Europe”.
He said: “These organisations operate outside the rule of law, operate in a manner which is entirely responsive to political influence.
“In our case we have been economically censored by Visa, including Visa Europe, MasterCard, Moneybookers, Bank of America, PayPal, Amazon, Western Union, and so on. All entirely outside the judicial process.
“We are involved in preliminary actions against Visa Europe.
“Most of these organisations admit, or have released public statements saying the reasons for them refusing to help pass on donations from the public to us is because of the allegations against us by the United States Government.”