back to article WikiLeaks gets Swiss bank info

A Swiss national, about to go on trial for breaking the country's strict secrecy laws, has handed Julian Assange two CDs containing names of 2,000 holders of secret Swiss bank accounts. Rudolf Elmer used to be chief operating officer for the Cayman Islands office of the private Swiss bank Julius Baer. Elmer is going on trial …

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  1. Blofeld's Cat
    Black Helicopters

    Diplomats and Swiss bank accounts

    I wonder how many names appear in both sets of leaked documents.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Diplomats and Swiss bank accounts

    I wonder how many people Assange will blackmail with both sets of leaked documents.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Big Brother

      What are you talking about...

      First if any of Assange's supporters names are present, those posts won't see the light of day.

      Second. Assange is 'assisting' the Fraud department for two reasons...

      1) He's trying to score brownie points with the Brit Govt.

      2) He's trying to angle for a reward.

      In the US if you are the whistle blower, you might be in line for a reward. An example. A guy blew the whistle on Oracle's overcharging the US Govt $$$$ on contracts. Consider the reward to be a nice retirement package. ;-)

  3. NoneSuch
    Grenade

    Lead by example St. Julian.

    I want to see Wikileaks bank information showing how much they took in for Bradley Manning's defense fund versus the $15K they gave out!!!

  4. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    Sir

    Isn't there a legal contradiction here?

    If the 'leaker' is found guilty of a crime and sent to prison or whatever, can the information he provided legally be used in a trial?

    If so, and the information leads to someone else being charged with a crime (tax evasion for example) then surely the guy would have been guilty of with-holding evidence if he hadn't made it available (ok it should have been to the Police but hey-ho).

    Wouldn't that mean that the banking secrecy laws are illegal too? (as they require their signatories to break the law by with-holding evidence).

    1. Tim #3

      but

      who says they are going to be prosecuted for anything. Surely the parastic scum will just be given the opportunity to pay the tax that they should be doing already. And a lot of embarrassing publicity and huge lawyers fees too. Much better than bothering trying to get them to court.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      It depends

      firstly on the laws of the land where any case is held. However, generally material obtained by criminal means is not accepted as evidence. But it can be accepted as a tip-off as to where to look for evidence that may be used in court or who to talk to. As to bank secrecy versus assistance in tax evasion or fraud there are usually limits on the amounts concerned when the authorities must be informed and bilateral agreements between countries usually explicitly forbid banks in one country from advising citizens in another how they made evade tax.

      <rant>

      Tax evasion is pernicious and crack downs are to be welcomed. If the rich buggers concerned actually paid what they siphon off tax rates for everyone could probably be reduced.

      </rant>

      1. kwhitefoot
        Flame

        Evidence?

        "However, generally material obtained by criminal means is not accepted as evidence"

        Do you have any evidence for that or is this just another piece of Anglo-centric shortsightedness? It appears to be true of the USA and partially true of the UK but it is not true in Norway. As far as I know the evidence is admissible however collected but those providing it could be prosecuted in a separate case for whatever transgressions they perpetrated. What the situation is in Switzerland I don't know.

        From http://www.unodc.org/documents/scientific/Crime_scene_awareness__Ebook.pdf:

        "TRUTH OR DUE PROCESS? THE USE OF ILLEGALLY GATHERED EVIDENCE IN THE

        CRIMINAL TRIAL IN NORWAY

        By public prosecutor at the office of the DPP, Ph.D. Runar Torgersen

        I. THE GENERAL THEORY OF ADMISSIBILITY OF ILLEGALLY GATHERED

        EVIDENCE

        A. Constitutional or Statutory Rules

        1. No Written General Exclusionary Rules

        In Norwegian criminal procedure it has never been any written rules on exclusion of illegally

        gathered evidence, neither constitutional nor statutory. This is now different in civil procedure;

        the 2005 Act relating to mediation and procedure in civil disputes (the Dispute Act), 1 section 22-

        7 contains a provision – “prohibition against improperly obtained evidence”. 2 The dominating

        principle in both criminal and civil procedure is, however, that of “free proof” (i.e. all evidential

        material should be adjudicated without any set rules as to its interpretation or weight). In this

        respect, Norwegian evidence law shares the common law axiom that all relevant evidence can be

        admitted, even though this foundational principle is not absolute."

        From http://www.abika.com/Reports/Norway_Criminal_or_Civil_Court_Records.htm:

        "Norwegian courts do not attach the same weight to judicial precedents as members of the judiciary in common law countries traditionally have done. Neither are Norwegian courts bound by intricate rules concerning the admissibility of evidence; the basic rule is that all evidence is admissible."

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          Boffin

          Evidence can be accepted ...

          ... as long as those who committed the crime are not state or government actors. That is to say that the criminals who stole the evidence did so on their own without any direction from the government.

          So if a bunch of criminals broke in to a bank vault, stole some sekret documents then mailed a copy of them to the local police station... that would be admissible. Were those crooks urged to break in to a specific vault by the police to obtain evidence, then the documents would not be admissible. (Good luck in proving that though.)

          So the government (US) couldn't commit a crime to gather evidence to support its case. However it could take and use any evidence that was obtained legally.

          Now here's the fun part. 'Fruit of a poisonous tree'. That is if the evidence was obtained indirectly as a result of an illegal act by the state, then the evidence is out.

          (And the burden of the defense is to show that the evidence was found from an illegal act.)

          1. Tom 13

            Minor nits

            As an earlier poster noted, that applies to the US only. UK laws are probably similar, but not exactly.

            Defense may have the burden to prove, but unlike the Defense, the Prosecution is required to provide any potentially mitigating evidence to the Defense. This is precisely the grounds on which the Ted Stevens bribery charges were reversed: Prosecution knew of evidence suggesting possible evidence tampering and didn't inform the Defense, so the whole case got thrown out even after the initial verdict was rendered.

    3. The BigYin

      I want to see...

      ...Julian making mention and publicising the conditions under which Manning is being held. Let WikiLeak's treatment and support of Manning be and indication to all would-be informers.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        @The BigYin

        Manning is being held in a military brig under the US military law. Much worse than civilian law with respect to detainment.

        But I do agree with you in your sentiment as to what one should expect from Wikileaks if you send information to Wikileaks.

        But that is not to say that I don't believe in *true* whistle blowing.

        I just don't believe in Assange.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Curious thought

    presumably neither had bail conditions that prevented them meeting other people in a similar position

  6. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    The worm turns

    It will be interesting to see which of his celebrity backers suddenly drop him like a hot spud...

  7. Mike Shepherd

    "...two CDs containing names of 2,000...

    Sounds like they have a serious data compression problem

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      2000 people

      I'm assuming that the CDs contain more that just names.

      I mean a list of 2000 names doesn't mean anything, but if you also have account lists and lists of transactions (that can be verified from the other end to verify that the data is correct...)

    2. Havin_it
      Boffin

      Perhaps...

      ...we're about to learn how Malcolm Peter Brian Telescope Adrian Umbrella Stand Jasper Wednesday (pops mouth twice) Stoatgobbler John Raw Vegetable (whinnying) Arthur Norman Michael (blows squeaker) Featherstone Smith (whistle) Northgot Edwards Harris (fires pistol, then 'whoop') Mason (chuff-chuff-chuff-chuff) Frampton Jones Fruitbat (laughs) (squeaker) Gilbert (sings) 'We'll keep a welcome in the' (three shots) Williams If I Could Walk That Way Jenkin (squeaker) Tiger-drawers Pratt Thompson (sings) 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head' Darcy Carter (horn) Pussycat (sings) 'Don't Sleep In The Subway' Barton Mainwaring (hoot, 'whoop') Smith of the Very Silly party funded his election campaign. Who knows, maybe other members of the family used the same bank too.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Okayman Islands

    "breaking the country's strict secrecy laws"

    Strictly speaking Mr Whistler van Blower was working within the legal purvey of a British Overseas Territory, so when it is the Swiss government and not the British government bailing out those banks then they can pretend Switzerland has a credible claim to the islands/country. (Of course Britain only bailed out the Cayman Island banks after Cameron's dropped demands that the territory actual pay some tax, but why have one rule for RBS and another for BOTs I suppose). Just because Switzerland is persecuting Islamic places of worship and being embarrassed by Wikileaks does not mean they also get to impose their sovereignty willie-nillie... and lets not even mention those gold teeth that where filling up Swiss cashier drawers during the mid-1940s.

  9. Hooch181
    Megaphone

    BBBBAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW....

    Here we go, more Assange bashing!

    While I am in no way asserting that Assange is squeeky clean or innocent! Why don't some people seem to get beyond Assange? He's not even important in the scheme of these leaks. If he has broken the law, fair enough he'll get his just do's (there are people who will make sure of it).

    More interesting is the information being disseminated and the effects that will have. I am interested in how these people are using the system. Knowing the truth about what is going on can only be a good thing in the end. sure some are going to get their collars felt or get a bit hot under the collar, so what, not like they havn't been screwing the rest of us over for years!

    And before anyone goes on about privacy. I really wouldn't care what people found out about me to be honest, I havn't done anything wrong!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      While I am in no way asserting that Assange is squeeky clean or innocent!

      Except make us wait for the second part of that sentence. Perhaps forever!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      privacy?

      @Hooch181, would you kindly post your bank details, NI number and a scan of your fingerprints somewhere that we can all have a good look?

      1. Hooch181
        Thumb Up

        Actually..

        I never said anything about volunteering, I said if anyone found out...

        Kinda Ironic coming from an AC don't you think?

        But you keep trucking there buddy!

      2. Hooch181
        Alert

        Just to clarify...

        what I mean. Nobody should go around flaunting their information, that's just a safety issue.

        But if someone should happen to steal or get a hold of it that would be my own responsibility for not taking precautions!

        You know, like the military not being able to keep it's own Classified information safe?

        1. Tom 13

          Except they didn't go around flaunting their money.

          They went to a nice bank known for protecting their depositors. Only now an employee of that bank is publishing their information. All of it.

          I'd dare say you'd be the first one screaming for the head of the local teller if they published all your financial data in a Swedish blog without so much as an email to you before hand.

          1. Hooch181

            To be perfectly honest...

            the way things are with my finances right now, it would be really boring! I still can't see what the big deal would be unless you are either doing something wrong or it allowed people to get access to your money...

            Saying all that, I do understand the whole privacy thing. I honestly understand you point of view. I'm not just being awkward to be awkward!

            But I would expect the bank to take responsibility for the leak as they are responsible for the data protection. Whomever stole it should be done for breaking the law and I do believe this Swiss chap is already in legal trouble for it!

            Where it does get hazy is when you include things like Wikileaks, as long as they did not conspire to steal the data it's pretty much fair game. That's how whistleblowing works!

            In the end, the data should have been protected better!

            (Sorry if this is a bit everywhere in a bit of a rush!)

    3. Nextweek
      FAIL

      @Hooch181

      "And before anyone goes on about privacy. I really wouldn't care what people found out about me to be honest, I havn't done anything wrong!"

      You sir clearly do not know your history. Being Jewish or Catholic at certain points in history could earn you a death sentence.

      Imagine that you gave a friend some money because he was a bit strapped for cash. Then you're travelling abroad on holiday. However a border official locks you up, without a trial, because you help fund a terrorist cell which your friend works for. You did nothing wrong in your eyes, but the current law would be against you.

      1. Hooch181
        Badgers

        So could being Ginger or left handed...

        Kind of a good thing we don't live in that world any more(for the most part).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    blah blah blah

    Just publish the UFO cables and stuff he might have on Crystal Knight and bring the whole ting to a close!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    So...

    Will there shortly be some "guarantee not to extradite me and you can have the list of UK account holders" bargaining... or has it already happened?

  12. ttuk
    Grenade

    is required and must contain ...

    Will be interesting if this set of docs actually turns up anything interesting or incriminating...

    After all everyone knows the likes of Vodafone and so on siphon money though a zillion different channels, the firm I work for technically has a HQ in the cayman islands, etc etc. plus of course lord ashcroft and all that..

    If this reveals that some members of the cabinet have a very "efficient" organisation of their assets going on then maybe we'll see some fireworks ("we're all in this together" and so on) but what with the negative publicity and over exposure of wikileaks lately perhaps any revelations will not capture the attention of the media...

    wait and see I guess

  13. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    I want to see more on the banks

    It will be interesting to see what corrupt money games the rich and powerful are playing via swiss bank accounts. If its anything like BCCI it should help shock a few more people into seeing the shocking depths of corruption going on behind our backs.

    I still don't think most people realise the full extent of what was going on at BCCI, which after a decade of investigations has been described as "the biggest clandestine money network in history." e.g.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_Credit_and_Commerce_International

  14. mhenriday
    Thumb Up

    One can only hope that Wikileaks

    both obtains and publicises more information on the devious means by which the rich protect their incomes and their fortunes from the taxes to which we plebians are subject. And if, in the event, they also obtain and publish information on just how much money such figures as the Reg's Andrew Orlowski have contributed to the Bradley Manning defense fund (http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/content/view/858/1/), that would be a plus - perhaps the sanctimonious Mr Orlowski has matched Wikileak's contribution ? (Of course, contributing to the fund may in certain venues leave one vulnerable to the charge of «supporting terrorism», but given the interest Mr Orlowski seems to have in Wikileaks' financial activities, he certainly won't mind if others take an interest in his....

    Henri

  15. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Boring!

    If you read the news print outside of El Reg, the 'ex-banker' has already promised that he's sending only redacted documents to Wikileaks. As stated... NO NAMES.

    So I seriously doubt that they would contain anything juicy.

    Of course, then Assange has to go through and redact the documents further.

    You can bet that if any of his 'patrons' have their information included, it will most likely never see the light of day.

    Big Brother is always watching. Also just a footnote... The US Government had already been working with the Swiss with respect to tax evaders so nothing new here. Anyone from Britain want to comment on what their govt. has been doing?

    1. multipharious

      this is accurate

      CH banking and US residents is a no go. Citizens and residents are being ordered to close accounts as far as I know. I don't know the extent of it, but I know it is happening.

      The secrecy does not exist.

      sidenote: thanks to both the government re-vitalization investment schemes (read debt,) the war effort (read debt,) and the lovely Wall St. financial shennanigans; the USD has taken a plunge into the toilet whereas the CHF is stumbling along a bit better in comparison. Almost like the Pound tanking after WWII.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    It all depends...

    on whether you're above the law. eg

    Tony Blair

    Hazel Blears

    Jacqui Smith

    Andy Coulson

    The Met

    BT

    BAE

    and many others in the old boy network...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Troll

    Nothing to hide...

    So let's say WikiLeaks published a list of everyone who had offered a workman cash in exchange for a VAT [sales tax] discount (ahem). Maybe you have been one of those workmen. Or perhaps you have bought some "duty free" booze or fags on shore. And of course you have all declared 'tips' for income tax where applicable.

    You would all be applauding then?

    Is there a moral difference between 'tax efficiency' and (say) mowing down civilians from a helicopter gunship?

    Indeed might one argue there is a moral imperative to withhold tax from governments which prosecute wars on a false pretext, shunt billions into the troughs of management consultancies etc?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      ODFO

      "Tax efficiency" in the case of Vodafone (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/22/vodafone-tax-case-leaves-sour-taste) is something that the UK pop'n rightly get very pissed off about, so to smell more of a whiff about yet more tax money laundering going on by the rich, especially when the public sector are having jobs cut and the UK are in a recession, leaves somewhat of a bitter taste.

      Besides, stop being so serious, pick up your gun and fire it into the air like everyone else - it's fun!

  18. fissuria
    Pirate

    Now we're getting somewhere...

    Some of the worst filth is hidden behind those institutions - banks.

    Let's see what Wikileaks releases.

    /me gets popcorn

    1. multipharious

      get a big bucket of popcorn because we will wait

      until we see neck stretchings for the mortgage meltdown, I won't be happy. These folks knew what they were doing was wrong, yet nothing will ever happen. Nor will it next time. That is a huge crime.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        Boffin

        @ multipharious... there's no secret there...

        Banks made money from creating Mortgage backed securities. Lots of money.

        It was a way to reduce risk.

        But they made assumptions concerning the quality of the underlying loans....

        Mortgage brokers, did whatever they could to generate loans. They made their commissions and moved on.

        The mortgage backed securities could withstand a couple of bad loans because the securities were based on a pool of like mortgages.

        But when there were too many bad loans... poof.

        Not to worry, someone wrote a security to hedge against this.. and sold it off to someone who would be on the hook if the mortgage pool collapsed. (In theory if the loans were good, this would never happen.) It should have been a 'safe bet'.

        Then you have the US Government adding liquidity to the market through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Why? Well some economists believe it was to help slow the gap between the really rich and well everyone else who is now living paycheck to paycheck.

        So you have a perfect storm.

        No single person to blame. The Housing Boom Fed the economy which meant more people could buy Chinese made products. (Thanks Wal*Mart!) The bubble inflated then burst. Only guys who had money, didn't get sucked in to the boom made out like bandits. (Soros, Buffet, etc...) These guys are just bottom feeders. They attempt to do good as a way of easing their conscience.

        Sorry, no secret here.

        1. Tom 13

          Mostly on target. The bit that you missed is the real culprit was the US Congress.

          They REQUIRED some of those bad loans to be made in order to eliminate non-existent redlining. This is what actually initiated the creation of MBSs. The bankers knew the loans were bad and didn't want to sit on them. The only way to ditch them was to slice them up with known good loans. Except that in the process the bad loans got upgraded to fully performing loans. And eventually there were to many bad loans in the mix. But by then the entire system was overwhelmed. All because some self-righteous leftists in Congress wanted to make wealth distribution more fair.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikileaks needs to do this right.

    Check the facts, if the information is found to be true (and if it's worth releasing), release it.

    If they mess this up they'll lose public support, and then they're not going to be around for much longer.

  20. ratfox Silver badge
    Go

    I hope the data is juicy

    WikiLeaks is hardly mentioned any more, even though they are still releasing cables... Truly, the interest of the public is fleeting.

    What about that American bank? I would like to see it too!

  21. Steen Larsen
    Stop

    Unlawful processing of personal information

    Surely this must be unlawful processing of personal information under the Data Protection Act.

    Having seen the photos of Assange being handed the CDs the Information Commisioner should have been out with blue lights to stop this illegal activity. Ahhhh, I forgot, nobody takes the DPA seriously.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    messing with money

    First posting about bank of America and now this. The US is not going to get a chance to extradite him.

    Also I think the Swiss will find a reason to prosecute him now. If you thought the charges were trump up before , just wait .

  23. Paul 172
    WTF?

    err numbers ?

    people who are concerned about their privacy would open a numbered account, not named. I beleive theyre still legal in Swiss...

  24. Gordon Pryra

    Of course the evidence is legal

    The UK uses evidence gained from a 3rd party using torture.

    This is the same thing, evidence gained illegally, but from a 3rd party.

    The only difference is this stuff is probably true and not what some poor sod said to make the pain go away.

    it makes me laugh, people talking about the legality of things governments do. Governments will do whatever they want to irrespective of laws the plebs have to live by.

    Anyway. I am starting to think that this list of names will be heavily edited by Assange to placate the Uk gov, so will be of little use or interest to us, and remove any credibility J had left.

    While we know that the list will include names of people like Ashcroft et al, these wont appear on wikileaks

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    good news

    We have built up a world where copying $5 worth of music will earn you fines in the multi-millions, while it remains perfectly acceptable for the rich to dodge hundreds of millions in tax that could otherwise be used to fight real crime (not pretend crime like having the gall to have a dead relative with a crooked gravestone that "might hurt somebody"), feeding the genuinely impoverished, or building safe roads (and then letting people actually drive on them).

    They might say that what they do is legal but they know that it is wrong.

  26. Alan Brown Silver badge
    Flame

    Tax courts and evidence

    Tax courts are rather different from courts of law.

    They're presided over by a tax inspector and there are NO restrictions on where the evidence comes from.

    Tax court findings can be challenged up into the law courts but the evidence issues stay the same and the costs are generally prohibitive (it's usually easier to pay the fines - part of the reason why when there are outrageous amounts owing the courts will cut a deal and accept lower payments)

    This holds pretty much universally true in every country. You can commit all the crime you want but don't even think about shortchanging your local customs and revenue departments.

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