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

Esther Addley, Guardian.co.uk, Monday 17 January 2011 18.24 GMT

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

Julian Assange (l) receives CDs containing data on offshore bank account holders from Rudolf Elmer. Photograph: Paul Hackett/Reuters

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 wanted to let society know how this system works because it’s damaging 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.

He would not be drawn on questions relating to the extradition case, which will be heard at Belmarsh magistrates court on 7 February, or on other leaks the site has promised are forthcoming, including information involving a “big US bank”, which many believe to be Bank of America.

The site was not yet fully functional, he said. “We are not open yet for public business. The volume of material that we would receive is too high for our internal mechanisms, but we are receiving in other ways, like this, in this manner,” he said. The release of leaked US diplomatic cables, which the site originally released through the Guardian and four other international media organisations, would continue, however. Elmer said he was passing the information to WikiLeaks because he had previously approached universities with the information but it had not been followed up. He said his attempts to interest the Swiss media had resulted only in his being dismissed as “a paranoid person, a mentally ill person”.

“I was close to giving up, but then a friend of mine told me: ‘There’s WikiLeaks.’ I looked at it and thought: ‘That’s the only hope I have to [let] society know what’s going on.'”

In 2008, he released to the site a much smaller collection of documents, also detailing the tax details of some of the bank’s clients. Though the site has never published that information, Julius Baer succeeded briefly in shutting down Wikileaks.org before the site, supported by a number of US media and civil liberties organisations, succeeded in overturning the injunction. He also passed the information to the US tax authorities.

The data was later seen by the Guardian, which found “details of numerous trusts in which wealthy people have placed capital. This allows them lawfully to avoid paying tax on profits, because legally it belongs to the trust”; the data also “[appeared] to include several cases where wealthy individuals sought to use trust money as though it were their own”.

In a statement to the Observer on Friday, Julius Baer said: “The aim of [Elmer’s] activities was, and is, to discredit Julius Baer as well as clients in the eyes of the public. With this goal in mind, Mr Elmer spread baseless accusations and passed on unlawfully acquired, respectively retained documents to the media, and later also to WikiLeaks. To back up his campaign, he also used falsified documents.”

A spokeswoman for the SFO said it would “consider allegations made to it to determine if the matter is within its jurisdiction and criteria for investigation or possibly for another authority to consider”.

Published at Anandabazar Patrika, January 18, 2011

Courtesy: The Guardian, Anandabazar Patrika

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10 Responses to “Julian Assange vows to reveal tax details of 2,000 wealthy people”

  1. Dinesh 18 January 2011 at 12:44 PM #

    I am sure Sonia/Rahul Gandhi’s name would be on top of list to have money in Swiss Bank. See SONIA/RAHUL GANDHI Exposed on YOUTUBE. COM by Dr Swamy. Every Indian who’s names comes out stacking Looted money in Swiss Bank must be Officially named ” TRAITOR ” and Julian Assanje should be Honored as ” BHARAT RATNA ” for his Great Patroitic work to India where no Security Agency or Politician had done till today.

  2. A K Bairagi 18 January 2011 at 9:45 PM #

    Congratulation Mr Assange for your brave activities. please take care yourself, we are thinkful about your security.

    We want this list of the wealthy people’s name must be revealed.

  3. biplab das 20 January 2011 at 8:48 PM #

    i think chronologically they are-
    pranab mukherji
    sonia gandhi
    mayabati
    madhu kora
    gorge farnandeze
    arjun sing
    lalu ji
    raja
    goutam deb
    karunanidhi
    chandrababu

  4. A K Bairagi 20 January 2011 at 11:02 PM #

    Biplab, you are absolutely right. And I will add the one single name that is —Lt. Jyoti Basu

  5. Madhusudan Mahato 25 January 2011 at 3:04 PM #

    We are with you,Mr.Assengge. Please publish the list.

  6. Dwijapada Bouri 27 January 2011 at 10:45 AM #

    Wel come Mr. Assengge. Please publish the name & address list of offshore bank account holders.

  7. Ravi 6 February 2011 at 1:11 PM #

    It will be very great step to kill all those bastard in publicly, they (in the list name) know it very well that nothing to be happened for them so they have done it. my thought just published that list. all indians with you………

  8. aniketchoudhary 17 February 2011 at 7:58 PM #

    CONGRATS MR ASSANGE I DNT UNDRSTND Y NO POLTICIANS R GOOD TO THER OWN MOTHERLAND WE NEED A COMUNITY WHO WILL WORK 4 PEPOLE WELFARE POLITICANS R DIGGING POOR PEPOLES GRAVE.TNXS A LOT

  9. syed Akbar 1 March 2011 at 12:47 PM #

    thank u..very much mr. Assange…
    U have done a great job..
    I hope…u will soon reveal the names of swiss bank account holders…
    Lets us see those politians..who are cheating and looting their own country


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