|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the German Wikipedia. (January 2011)|
Rudolf Elmer (born 1955/1956) is a former employee of the Swiss bank Julius Bär. He worked for the bank for close to two decades, and in his last position, he managed the bank's Caribbean operations for eight years until his dismissal in 2002. He came to prominence as a whistleblower in 2008 when he gave secret documents to WikiLeaks detailing the activities of Julius Bär in the Cayman Islands and its role in alleged tax evasion. Before that, he had been arrested in 2005 and held for 30 days.
In January 2011, he was convicted in Switzerland of breaching security laws and other offenses. He was rearrested immediately thereafter for having again distributed illegally obtained data to WikiLeaks. Julius Bär alleges that Elmer has doctored evidence to suggest the bank engaged in tax evasion.
I am a critic of offshore business by banks and multinational companies. Offshore centres have multiplied since the 1960s to the present, increasing from 10 to 80. Trusts as in the laws of Commonwealth countries are – despite being legal – illegitimate. Privacy protection is important for banking and I am not against bank secrecy but companies abuse this secrecy. I have never received money from tax authorities. I want to change the system.
Work with WikiLeaks
On 3 March 2008 the German magazine Der Spiegel revealed that Elmer was the source of documents that appeared some weeks earlier on WikiLeaks; Der Spiegel referred to them as partly authentic and partly fake.
A California judge had the service provider of WikiLeaks block the site's domain (wikileaks.org) on behalf of Julius Bär on 18 February 2008, although the bank only wanted the documents to be removed (WikiLeaks had failed to name a contact person).
According to Der Spiegel and the Swiss television documentary show "Rundschau", on 2 March 2008, Elmer accused his bank of evading taxes in Switzerland by declaring bank work to have been carried out in the Cayman Islands, whereas the work was actually done in Switzerland.
On 17 January 2011, Elmer staged a press conference with Julian Assange to hand over two discs of data in front of reporters. He told reporters:
As a banker, I have the right to stand up if something is wrong [...] 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 added that he had tried to approach universities with his data but that they had not responded. Likewise, attempts to attract the attention of the Swiss media had failed, with Elmer being dismissed as "a paranoid person, a mentally ill person". Elmer began to lose hope, "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.'"
Trial and rearrest
On 19 January 2011, in a court of first instance, Elmer was found guilty of threatening an employee at Julius Bär, attempting to extort a payment from that bank and breaching banking secrecy laws. He was sentenced to either spend 240 days in jail or pay a fine of 7,200 Swiss francs, but the sentence was suspended, with a probation period of two years. Elmer is appealing against the conviction.
After he left court he was re-arrested in connection with handing data to WikiLeaks only two days earlier, a move that was described by the prosecutor of the first case as contempt of court. On 25 July 2011, Elmer was set free.
- Fantz, Ashley (17 January 2011). "Who is Rudolf Elmer, WikiLeaks' newest leaker?". CNN. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
- Browning, Lynnley (18 January 2010). "Swiss Banker Blows Whistle on Tax Evasion". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
- Vulliamy, Ed (16 January 2011). "Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer plans to hand over offshore banking secrets of the rich and famous to WikiLeaks". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
- Press conference on January 19th 14:45hrs Tages Anzeiger, german
- Spiegel, 2008-03-03, German
- Rundschau documentary 2008-02-04, german
- Addley, Esther (17 January 2011). "Julian Assange vows to reveal tax details of 2,000 wealthy people". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
- "Swiss banker Elmer re-arrested over Wikileaks charges". BBC. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
- Rudolf Elmer ist frei in: Der Sonntag vom 14. August 2011
- rudolfelmer.com – Activist, reformer, banker - Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer
- Channel 4 News – Who Knows Who: Rudolf Elmer
- PRESS CONFERENCE: Rudolf Elmer Extended recording of press conference featuring Rudolf Elmer and Julian Assange at the Frontline Club