Legal

Former Julius Baer Banker Faces Charges Of Violating Swiss Secrecy Laws

Harriet Davies, 12 January 2011

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Rudolf Elmer, the former Julius Baer banker who was involved in leaking documents to Wikileaks in 2008, will answer charges of coercion and of violating Switzerland's banking secrecy laws before a Zurich regional court this month, WealthBriefing can confirm. Wikileaks, against whom the Swiss bank dropped a case in 2008, is not party to the trial.

Elmer will answer charges of coercion and violating Switzerland's banking secrecy laws on 19 January, with the bank acting as a plaintiff. Wikileaks is not involved in the trial, which will instead focus on the earlier release of data to Swiss media, a spokesperson for the bank said.

Back in February 2008, Wikileaks was ordered by a California court to shut down, at the request of Julius Baer and its Cayman-based subsidiary Julius Baer Bank & Trust. This was following a court case, initiated because the website had posted documents relating to the offshore activities of Julius Baer. The following month, the Swiss bank voluntarily dropped the case against the whistle-blowing website.

The leaked documents were based on data allegedly supplied by Elmer, a former chief operating officer of Julius Baer in the Cayman Islands. The bank, however, denied the authenticity of the material at the time, and rejected the allegations.

In the upcoming case, which is entirely separate from the previous one, Elmer has said he will admit some counts of coercion but not to breaking Swiss banking secrecy, because the files he distributed belonged to a Cayman subsidiary of the bank, Bloomberg reports. He is therefore reportedly claiming that the data, which he admits to distributing to Swiss media outlets, was not subject to the Alpine state’s famed banking secrecy laws.

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