Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer: ‘they want to crucify me, as an example to other bankers’

   0   0 Blog, Corruption, Enablers and intermediaries, Secrecy
Elmer (right) and the symbolic handover

Elmer (right) in a symbolic handover of data to Julian Assange

Rudolf Elmer, the Swiss whistleblower who has been pursued by Swiss courts for a decade and served over half a year in prison while accused of (according to Switzerland’s peculiar courts) violating the Swiss banking secrecy law, now faces two more court trials: one, on June 23rd, as part of the ongoing case for which he has already been in prison; and one on June 24th, relating to the symbolic handover of a data file to Julian Assange at the Frontline Club in London.

Journalists, save the date: June 23 and June 24. Though the Brexit vote will dominate media coverage around that time, don’t forget Elmer. 

In an email to TJN last week, Elmer said:

“I really think that Zürich’s financial centre and Zürich’s justice wants me to be cruficied at Paradeplatz in Zurich, in front of UBS, Credit Suisse, Julius Baer and HSBC, in order to threaten other bankers.”

Paradeplatz, as advertised on a TJN-related book

Paradeplatz, as advertised on a TJN-related book

Paradeplatz in Zurich, in the picture here, is the world headquarters for Credit Suisse and UBS, and contains offices of many financial sector players.

We cannot stress strongly enough – do go and look at the detailed evidence – that Switzerland appears to have corrupted its courts system, in order to nail him. (In short, he is accused of breaking Swiss bank secrecy, even though he wasn’t in Switzerland at the relevant time, and he wasn’t working for a “Swiss bank” under the relevant definition in the law. The courts have selectively refused to consider large sections of evidence.)

His forthcoming trials follow a number of severe attacks on whistleblowers against tax havens recently. Beyond Elmer, there is the case of Luxleaks whistleblowers Antoine Deltour, Edouard Perrin and Raphael Halet (read this excellent article for a summary of Luxembourg’s corrupt financial machine in action;) the Mossack Fonseca/Panama Papers case, where there appears to be a whistleblower arrest; the Hervé Falciani case (where, again, the whistleblower has got it in the neck;) and now – much less well known in western circles – the case of Hernán Arbizu in Argentina, apparently a JP Morgan whistleblower. As Argentina’s Pagina 12 summarises:

“The bankers who launder and flee seem to get protection, and those who expose them are condemned. Arbizu’s whistleblowing ends with his arrest and extradition.”

We asked Elmer for his reaction to the difficulties facing other whistleblowers, and he said, firstly in response to the Luxleaks whistleblower scandal:

“This case clearly shows again that any judicial system is a tool of  the powerful oligarchs and multinationals in a country, and the judges have to bend and stretch the law in a way that fits the purpose and liking of the powerful. If the interests of the powerful are at risk, the rule of law will be bent or even ignored while the man in the street eventually pays the bill.

In the case of my family and me, we had to go into exile to Mauritius in 2006 because I would not have found a job in Switzerland: I was called a thief, a blackmailer, a terrorist, a mentally ill person etc. — and on top of this, my family was stalked for more than two years, unprotected by the Swiss police or a witness protection program. I was made an outlaw: an enemy of Switzerland, and it seems that in a certain part of Swiss society I will be called this for the rest of my life.”

Related Posts

Swiss Politicians seek to block automatic exchange of banking information with developing countries

Photo by Pedro SzekelyCould we be seeing a return to the bad old days of Swiss Banking? A right wing party in Switzerland, the Swiss People’s Party, has launched an assault on the automatic exchange of banking information, according to Swiss Daily Newspaper Tages Anzeiger.


The Offshore Wrapper – Data havens and new crackdowns on tax avoidance

Gorgeous Computer FixingsBelow is the text of the offshore wrapper,  a weekly roundup of news from the world of tax justice sent out to our mailing list. If you haven’t signed up yet and would like to receive the wrapper in your inbox every week – you can do so here.


Open data for tax justice – designing a new CbCR database

OD4TJlogoThis week, TJN participated in a design sprint in London organised by Open Knowledge International. The purpose of the sprint was to bring together coders and tax justice advocates to start work on building a database for the new country by country reporting data that we hope will be released in the future, if public […]


New research on key role major economies play in global tax avoidance

offshore-network_colorcorrectedAn important new study on Offshore Financial Centres (OFCs) from the University of Amsterdam has made some fascinating discoveries, challenging, as the Financial Secrecy Index has, the popular misconception that tax havens are only palm fringed little islands and exposing that in fact major economies play a key role in global tax avoidance. Specifically they’ve […]


Launch of international research collaboration, #AltAusterity

alt austerityToday is the launch of #AltAusterity, a new, international research collaboration of which Tax Justice Network is a partner.  The project aims to stimulate public debate on the subject of austerity though high quality research. It is a response to the lack of evidence which has underpinned the current policy agenda on austerity. The project […]


About The Author

Nicholas Shaxson is a journalist and writer on the staff of Tax Justice Network. He is author of the book Poisoned Wells about the oil industry in Africa, published in 2007, and the more recent Treasure Islands: Tax havens and the Men who Stole the World, published by Random House in January 2011. He lives in Berlin
View all posts by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top