Swiss Arrest WikiLeaks Banker

Whistleblower Rudolf Elmer accused of breaking secrecy laws
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2011 5:04 AM CST
"I think, as a banker, I do have the right to stand up if something is wrong," said Elmer, seen here leaving a Swiss court yesterday.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Walter Bieri)
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(Newser) – From one legal mess to another: The Swiss last night arrested an ex-banker who appears to have broken the country's strict banking secrecy laws in spectacular fashion. Rudolf Elmer—who handed Julian Assange details on 2,000 holders of offshore accounts this week—is being detained while authorities investigate the possible security breach, CNN reports. Elmer was taken into custody just hours after he was convicted and fined by a Swiss court on an unrelated charge of breaking banking secrecy laws by sharing client data and threatening employees when he worked at Julius Baer.

Elmer—who headed the office of Julius Baer in the Cayman Islands until he was fired in 2002—says the data given to WikiLeaks exposes widespread tax evasion by businesspeople and politicians. His lawyer argues that Swiss secrecy laws shouldn't apply to overseas branches of Swiss banks. He will face up to 5 years in jail if found guilty of passing information to a third party without a client’s consent.

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