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.

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Published on January 24, 2011
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