Bank Julius Baer vs. Wikileaks

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January 23, 2008

The largest Swiss bank specializing in hiding the assets of the ultra-rich, Bank Julius Baer, says it will file federal US proceedings against the transparency group Wikileaks by Friday.

Over the last two weeks, Wikileaks has released several hundred documents from a Swiss banking whistleblower purportedly showing offshore tax evasion and money laundering by extremely wealthy and in some cases, politically sensitive, clients from the US, Europe, China and Peru.

Part of the data was leaked to US and German tax authorities in 2005 and the Wall Street Journal ran an article on the act of leaking but not those mentioned in the material. The detail and specific allegations have previously been unavailable to the public.

The bank concerned, Julius Baer (BJB), which specializes in asset hiding, has briefed Hollywood media lawyers Lavely and Singer, who like to describe themselves as "all-around bad cop for stars from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger to Jim Carrey and Celine Dion.".

Strangely, Lavely and Singer have refused to put in writing either the name of their client or name of the documents concerned.

However in a telephone call yesterday between Wikileaks' Californian counsel Julie Turner [editor: Julie Turner was Wikileaks pre-litigation lawyer for this matter. Don't send her material for Wikileaks in general] and Lavely and Singer's Evan Spiegel, L&S admitted their client was BJB and claimed that the whistleblower concerned was the former deputy director of the Cayman Islands office, Rudolf Elmer.

Mr. Elmer, who has since returned to Zurich, took a December 2007 anti-stalking case against BJB in an attempt to prevent BJB's private detectives following him. L&S claims that it has its own proceedings against the whistleblower scheduled for hearing this month. L&S made several other allegations against Mr. Elmer to Wikileaks' counsel, however L&S have not put these in writing.

The Swiss daily, Weltwoche, in its 2005 article, "The Leak in Paradise", confirmed the veracity of several of the files with two BJB Cayman Islands office employees.

Although Wikileaks can not say that the files are identical to those seen by the Swiss paper, in light of BJB's threatened legal attack on Wikileaks over documents that:

..constitute violation of trade secrets, conversion and stolen documents by former employee in violation of a written confidentiality agreement and copyright infringement, among other wrongful and tortuous conduct.

Wikileaks asks that the documents and BJB's practices of asset hiding be inspected and reminds BJB that its failure to openly respond to the allegations against it continues to draw scrutiny of the public and regulators (to whom the material has been forwarded) alike.


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