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Swiss Banker Spills Secrets to WikiLeaks

Former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer hands two CD cases full of files to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, left, following a news conference at the Frontline Club in London, 17 Jan 2011

A former Swiss banker on Monday handed over to WikiLeaks thousands of documents containing the secret banking details of politicians, multinationals and hedge funds using banking havens to avoid paying taxes.

Rudolf Elmer handed the disks with the information over to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who said his website will publish the data after having verified it. The handover took place at the Frontline Club in London.

Assange said it would be weeks before the information could be checked and published, and that his team could also hand over relevant information to Britain's Serious Fraud Office.

Elmer began gathering the information while he worked at the offshore Cayman Island trust subsidiary of Bank Julius Baer, one of Switzerland's top private banks. He no longer works with the bank.

He said the disks held data from 1990 to 2009 on some 2,000 clients of the bank, and claimed that Switzerland's banking secrecy laws are "damaging" society.

Elmer is scheduled to appear in a Swiss court Wednesday on charges of violating Swiss bank secrecy laws.

Assange said the WikiLeaks website will publish all the information contained in the files. Assange is under house arrest while he fights an extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault.