A former Swiss banker today handed over documents of 2,000 high net worth people from US, Britain and Asia to WikiLeaks that he claims would expose attempts by these business leaders and lawmakers to evade tax payments.
Rudolf Elmer, a former employee of Swiss-based Bank Julius Baer, said the account holders include celebrities, business leaders and lawmakers.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, fighting cases to extradite him to Sweden to face sex charges, appeared alongside Elmer to say that they would make these documents, contained in two discs, public in the future.
According to a report in Swiss newspaper Der Sonntag, the data covers multinationals, financial firms and wealthy individuals from many countries, including the UK, US and Germany, and covers the period 1990-2009.
"The one thing on which I am absolutely clear is that the banks know, and the big boys know, that money is being secreted away for tax evasion purposes," Elmer told Observer newspaper.
He said the files being handed over to whistle-blower site WikiLeaks exposed activities in offshore financial centres.
At the press briefing, Assange said that, with his organisation focussed on the publication of its cache of about 250,000 diplomatic cables, it could be several weeks before Elmer's files are reviewed and posted in the WikiLeaks website.
"We will treat this information like all other information we get," Assange said. "There will be a full revelation."
The Swiss banker has previously leaked banking documents to the secret-spilling site and told journalists that he wanted to expose the offshore banking system.
"I want to let society know how this system works," he said. "It's damaging society."
The banker released the files two days before he is due to appear before a Zurich regional court to answer charges of coercion and violating Switzerland's strict banking secrecy laws.
Elmer said he would not reveal what specifically was in the documents, and would not disclose "individual companies or individual names" of the account holders.