Elmer WikiLeaks deal likely to spur others

Vidya Ram London | Updated on November 12, 2017 Published on January 24, 2011

Mr Rudolf Elmer, the Swiss whistleblower who has handed the details of 2,000 secret bank accounts, allegedly containing the names of high net worth individuals from across Asia, the US and Europe, to Mr Julian Assange may now be in custody in Switzerland, but his legacy is likely to prompt others to follow his lead.

“More people will follow suit. There are employees in banks not just in the Cayman Island (where Mr Elmer had been based) who know that there employers are engaged in criminal activities and would like to leak high level information but haven't been able to,” said Mr John Christensen, the director of Tax Justice Network, an international organisation devoted to research and analysis in the field of tax regulation, avoidance and evasion.

Mr Christensen is due to speak at a conference in New Delhi next month.

“We regularly work with people in the off shore arena who wanted to leak information, but we were unable to because we weren't geared for it,” he added. “This sends a clear message to banks: don't assume you can maintain secrecy firewalls.”

On Monday, Mr Elmer – a former compliance officer of Swiss bank Julius Baer – handed over two CDs containing the files to the WikiLeaks founder.

In an interview with the Observer the day before, Mr Elmer said that they included high-net worth individuals, including around ‘40 politicians.'

Mr Elmer has said he will not publish the names, but Mr Assange has promised ‘full revelation' possibly in a matter of weeks.

Mr Elmer, who has already spent 30 days in a Swiss prison for breaking the nation's famed banking secrecy laws, is now under arrest in Switzerland, for leaking the details to WikiLeaks.

Earlier in the day, he was given a suspended fine of 7,200 Swiss francs for breaking banking laws by a Zurich court.

India urged to fight tax evasion

Mr Christensen, a former economic advisor to the island of Jersey, called on the Indian Government to do more in the fight against tax evasion.

“India, as a member of the G20 is in a powerful position to push for far stronger cooperation. India should not be settling for weak treaty processes, but demanding the automatic exchange of information,” he said referring to the amendments currently going through on the country's double taxation treaty with Switzerland.

Earlier this week, the Swiss Federal Assembly's Committee for Economic Affairs and Taxes said it was passing an amended version of the treaty which would give Indian authorities access to details of Indian clients suspected of evading taxes.

Mr Christensen said that as the changes would enable information sharing on a specific, case-by-case basis, they did not go far enough. “India should be demanding automatic information exchange and on a multilateral basis,” he said.

A spokesman for the Swiss committee, CEAT said that the legislation would likely go through the first chamber in February or March, and the second chamber by July.

Published on January 24, 2011

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.