The one thing that every single James Bond villain, Die Hard terrorist and international super spy has in common is a secret Swiss bank account.
According to former Swiss banker, Rudolph Elmer, more than 2,000 actors, politicians and businessmen also have such accounts.
In early January, Elmer staged a press conference where he presented Swiss bank data to WikiLeaks director, Julian Assange.
The data consists of details about 2,000 bank accounts used by high profile members of the international community, including politicians and businessmen, for tax evasion purposes. Shortly after handing over the data, Elmer was arrested by Swiss authorities for breaking the strict secrecy laws of Swiss banks.
In 2002, Elmer was fired from his position as head of Swiss bank Julius Baer’s Cayman Islands Trust subsidiary. Since that time, he has approached numerous organizations about the banks dealings and gave data to WikiLeaks in 2008.
“Privacy protection is important for banking and I am not against bank secrecy, but companies abuse this secrecy,” says Elmer. “I do think as a banker, I have the right to stand up if something is wrong.”
Representatives of Elmer’s former employer, Julius Baer, have claimed that Elmer is simply on a quest for revenge against the bank. They have also asserted that the information Elmer gave to WikiLeaks in 2008 had been falsified. After receiving two discs from Elmer, Assange stated that the data would be released by WikiLeaks after it undergoes a vetting process and been confirmed as authentic.
WikiLeaks already has experience dealing with information regarding banks.
Aside from their release based on the information Elmer gave them in 2008, the organization has long claimed to have information pertaining to the Bank of America, who recently began refusing to carry out transactions that had anything to do with WikiLeaks. Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal have also stopped all their dealings with WikiLeaks.
Since its inception in 2006, WikiLeaks has acted as a go-to for whistle-blowers, by publishing their secrets and offering complete anonymity.
“By providing unbiased information that is otherwise kept secret from the public, the public will ultimately be in a better position to think about the ramifications of supporting governments and policies that put us in Iraq, Afghanistan and, by extension, other places,” says Thomas Rose, a professor of journalism at Laurier Brantford.
In 2010, WikiLeaks made a series of releases which have been among the most significant they have handled. Beginning in April, they published a cockpit video recording of an American military helicopter in Iraq killing several civilians and two Reuter’s journalists titled “Collateral Murder.” WikiLeaks then released large amounts of previously classified data regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Finally, in November, the organization released numerous U.S. State department diplomatic cables.
Since the release of the U.S. cables, the organization has come under increasing pressure from the U.S. government who have subpoenaed Twitter and may seek to press criminal charges against members of the organization.