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Ex-Swiss banker gives WikiLeaks account docs

January 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A former Swiss banker handed over documents on Monday to WikiLeaks that allegedly detail cases of tax evasion by celebrities, business leaders and even banks.These claims come from Rudolf Elmer, a former employee of Swiss private bank Julius Baer Group, who says he worked in the Cayman Islands helping celebrities and corporations avoid taxes.

Elmer said he tried to give this information to universities but when they were uncomfortable using it, his only choice was to turn to WikiLeaks.

"I want to let society know what I do know and how this system works because it's damaging our society," said Elmer.

At a Monday morning press conference, Elmer was seem handing over two CDs full of data to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Neither Elmer nor Assange would name any names, but Assange said WikiLeaks will go through a vetting process first, to confirm the information. It will also alert authorities.

"We will treat this information like all of the information we get. So I presume that once we've looked at the data, assuming it's not anomalous, assuming it's like everything else we receive, yes, there will be full revelation," said Assange.

Elmer said the CDs contain information on more than 2,000 accounts including what he calls "high net worth" celebrities, business leaders and lawmakers from U.S., Great Britain and China.

A man working with Elmer claims that more than $20 trillion in potentially taxable U.S. money is currently sitting offshore.

Assange said that with his organization focused on the publication of its cache of about 250,000 diplomatic cables, it could be several weeks before Elmer's files are reviewed and posted in the WikiLeaks website.

This is the second time Elmer has sent documents to WikiLeaks.

In two days, he's set to appear in a Zurich courtroom to answer charges of coercion and violating Switzerland's strict banking secrecy laws.

Assange has made few public appearances since he was released on bail on Dec. 16 following his arrest on a Swedish extradition warrant.

Under the terms of his release, Assange must live at the mansion home of Vaughan Smith, the owner of the Frontline Club. He was compared the regime to "high-tech house arrest," but has recently promised that the flow of leaked documents published by his organization would increase.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.