New interview with Rudolf Elmer: "The focus in my case has so far entirely been on incriminating evidence"
First of all, can you update us on your personal (other than the judicial matters) and professional situation since our last interview in 2011?
Rudolf Elmer: Remember I decided to take the bull by the horns four years ago and returned to Switzerland in order to challenge the powerful bodies (the courts, politics and even the government) and make it public in society how a truth-teller is treated if the national interest – the golden calf of bank secrecy – and the dubious interests of the powerful financial oligarchs in Switzerland are at risk? Taking this position has had a tremendous impact not only on my overall situation but, more importantly, on my family’s situation.
My personal situation has changed during the last three years in a positive way, due to the fact that the man in the street now understands that banking secrecy provides not just protection of the privacy of honest people, it also provides more and more a protective legal framework for criminals, and – more importantly – anonymous offshore vehicles. In addition, there is plenty of moral support I receive not only from citizens but also from very well-established people in Swiss society. People who understand that the reputation of Switzerland has been spoiled by greedy managers.
My professional situation is definitely not satisfactory, due to the fact that I have applied unsuccessfully for several positions, for example with Alternative Bank of Switzerland and with NGOs, etc. However, as long as I am involved in legal battles with the courts, no one is willing to hire me or to provide me with real support in the sense of benefiting from my expertise in the global financial industry. Obviously, I provide advice to some clients who have been cheated by the banks, but I have not charged them any fees. Fortunately, the broader society starts to listen to me and understand that I am trying to educate society by disclosing my insider knowledge on how tax havens work and what sort of damage they cause to society. The recent scandals in the financial industry and the ongoing debt crisis, and the fact that major scandals like Enron, Madoff, Sir Allan Standford, AIG, LGCM, Starbucks, Google, etc. were facilitated mainly by structures in secrecy jurisdictions make me a witness of abusive practices but not yet a wanted expert by investigators, governments and regulators. Therefore, my professional situation is still unsatisfactory, mainly due to the fact that the legal battle has been ongoing for close to eight years now in the state of Zurich and there is still no verdict made.
Whistleblowing is not acknowledged in a secrecy jurisdiction for obvious reasons! The letter might be even more important for the Federal judges of Switzerland or the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and also civil society if I have to appeal a possible negative verdict of the judges of the High Court of Zurich. In simple terms, it is transparency and a fair trial I want and in this regard the well-known Omerta of Swiss courts is going to have a difficult position.
Regarding the ECHR, which turned down your complaint four years after you submitted it, we wrote a letter to them questioning several irregularities in the handling of your complaint. Their response didn’t answer these questions, raising doubt about the independence of the ECHR in matters of banking secrecy and tax evasion. What are your thoughts on this?
My view is that the business model of bank secrecy is driven by strong political and economic interests, not only of individual governments but also of large economic regions, global organisations and large companies such as financial institutions and multi-national conglomerates. Therefore, the Americans protect their secrecy juristictions Delaware, Wyoming, Nevada; the United Kingdom does the same with the Channel Islands and Cayman BVI; India with Mauritius and the Seychelles; China with Hong Kong and Singapore; South America with Belize, Panama and the Caribbean and Europe respectively. The ECHR protects in my case Switzerland, I assume for political and economic reasons. On top of that, there are these global organisations such as the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and the G20 which consist of several member states that are known as tax havens using bank secrecy simply to run their dubious business through. Therefore, the main purpose of secrecy laws is to profit from it and hide abusive business transactions and the real, end-of-the-chain beneficiaries. In my case, the ECHR just did what it felt it had to do and ignored for political reasons the hardship of my family in order to serve the system and protect bank secrecy, which today is known by society to cause so much injustice and pain.
It seems tax evasion has pervaded the political class so much (including in the West) that some members of governments, who push austerity down the throat of their peoples, are themselves at the same time stashing millions in tax havens to avoid taxes – as may be the case with the former French Minister of the Budget Jérôme Cahuzac, who is currently under investigation but who chose to publicly "apologise". Your comment on this case?
There is no direct harassment occurring by those institutions but there is still an ongoing attack on my reputation, and obviously the fact that the case is still pending in the courts is a big burden for me and my family. For instance, my daughter’s computer, her camera and her CDs were confiscated by the police in January 2011 and therefore she, as a 13 year old girl, feels that her basic rights as a Swiss citizen have been badly and consistently violated by the Zurich authorities. Not to mention all the family photos and medical reports confiscated in September 2005 and never returned. This is a way to put pressure on the entire family.
In the last six months you have appeared on talk shows and were mentioned in several articles, including a special report by The Economist on tax evasion. Have you noticed a new interest in the press about this topic, and if yes, what do you think has motivated it?
Recently Jean Ziegler, a former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, has published a book in which he denounces what he sees as the systemic and intentional starvation till death of one child every five seconds, because the global food supply could feed double the current number of humans. Do you draw a parallel between this systemic starvation and the systemic corruption that banking secrecy allows and creates?
Jean Ziegler has been a strong supporter of my case since 2005 and we have been on talk shows recently together. I have read the book you refer to twice. My view is that there is a very strong connection between the systemic corruption caused by banking secrecy laws and systemic starvation. There are not only multi-national conglomerates but also financial institutions that benefit from price fluctuations related to water and food. There are striking examples in the hedge fund industry of speculation on food prices, and also within groups such as the world's largest commodity trading companies. All of them use banking secrecy laws to avoid transparency and to hide their dubious business practices.
I’d also like to mention that Jean Ziegler's view and statements increased my motivation because my fight is not really a fight in my own favour, it is a fight to support helpless individuals who do not have a voice in this world. Therefore, it is worthwhile to go to prison again if required to send another strong message to society about the abusive banking secrecy laws.
Julian Assange, whose organisation Wikileaks helped you make your case public in 2008, is still protecting himself in the Ecuadorean embassy in London against a politically motivated Swedish legal case that could end up with him being extradited to the US, where he could face torture or worse. Would you like to convey a message to him?
The entire uphill battle is about credibility in society and that is key for anyone who challenges the powerful institutions and groups!
What are your plans for the near future?
It is pretty simply to do what I have proposed to Julian Assange in the previous question. For me, that will mean taking part in quality talk shows; to present my views in well-known and quality newspapers; to complete two international documentaries; and to take part in investigative programmes with media outfits such as ARTE TV, ARD, SWR and Deutsche Welle. And also to challenge in court those two conservative Swiss newspapers who tried to destroy my reputation, in order to keep the matter of whistleblowing and abusive Swiss bank secrecy alive in the public domain!
Follow Liberté-info on Twitter
Did you like this interview? We are a small group of volunteers creating content and updating news on this site. We need more volunteers to help promote and defend digital democracy and whistleblowers. Help us move to the next level! Get involved in a critical issue for the future of democracy! Join us!
Also, please consider supporting us through a bitcoin donation: 19YdQuudgg5q9E5vBCKiege4HRVZzHsPnL
This work by Association Liberté-info is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License