A man about to go on trial in Switzerland for breaking that country’s secrecy laws has promised to give details of 2,000 individuals and corporations who are hiding their money in offshore accounts to Wikileaks tomorrow.
The offshore bank account details of 2,000 “high net worth individuals” and corporations – detailing massive potential tax evasion – will be handed over to the WikiLeaks organisation in London tomorrow by the most important and boldest whistleblower in Swiss banking history, Rudolf Elmer, two days before he goes on trial in his native Switzerland.
British and American individuals and companies are among the offshore clients whose details will be contained on CDs presented to WikiLeaks at the Frontline Club in London. Those involved include, Elmer tells the Observer, “approximately 40 politicians”.
Elmer, who after his press conference will return to Switzerland from exile in Mauritius to face trial, is a former chief operating officer in the Cayman Islands and employee of the powerful Julius Baer bank, which accuses him of stealing the information.
That’s interesting enough. But I’m equally interested because of who Elmer’s lawyer is: Jack Blum. Blum explains why Elmer has resorted to leaking this to Wikileaks.
“My understanding is that my client’s attempts to get the banks to act over various complaints he made came to nothing internally,” says Elmer’s lawyer, Jack Blum, one of America’s leading experts in tracking offshore money. “Neither would the Swiss courts act on his complaints. That’s why he went to WikiLeaks.”
Calling Blum, “one of America’s leading experts in tracking offshore money” doesn’t convey the degree to which Blum’s investigations–perhaps most famously of BCCI–exposed the ties of the very powerful to corrupt money. After Blum’s Senate investigation of BCCI got too close to the Democratic fixer Clark Clifford, he was fired; he had to bring his work to NY’s DA and the press to reveal what he had found.
In a book review for HuffPo last year, Blum described how important it is to map the networks that run our world, yet noted that doing so has gotten more difficult since he first started investigating such things.
When I came to Washington 45 years ago to work as an investigator for the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, a senior investigator with years of experience told me that the beginning of any good investigation was a clear understanding of the players. “Everyone you will look at has a history,” he explained. “They will have mentors and sponsors. They will have networks of political and business connections. They will play many roles. If you understand those, everything else will fall into place.”