Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No school for whistleblowers



As we blogged yesterday, Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer handed over information to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, on more than 2000 banking clients believed to be engaged in major tax dodging. TJN's director John Christensen and Senior Adviser Jack Blum, who is also Ruedi's attorney, were there in support and addressed the press conference.

The press corps were keen to hear of evidence of criminal activity, and that well-known names would be revealed. None of which can be confirmed. Identities are disguised, and money flows blurred, through layers of complex structuring via trusts and shell companies. These need to be unraveled and deconstructed for the information to emerge, a task that will take dedicated work by experts in the field.

And that is the point. Ruedi's information highlights a system of abuse within the global financial architecture, perpetrated by a powerful elite and executed by a pinstripe army of bankers, lawyers and accountants. And they are hiding, according to research by renowned economist and senior TJN adviser James Henry, an estimated US$ 20,000,000,000,000 (that's 20 trillion dollars) of wealth in secrecy jurisdictions.

While Ruedi is being hauled through a Swiss court on charges of breaking bank secrecy, legions of other private bankers continue with their daily business, not only in plain sight, but with a veneer of sophistication, even an aura of glamour and excitement.

Ruedi, in speaking out, has endured prison, character smears, job loss and intimidation. All of this, not only to deter Ruedi, but also of course to deter other potential whistleblowers. Ruedi is living proof that there are bankers who are not naive to the appalling, devastating impact of their work on poverty, and who do have a conscience.

See here the trailer for the upcoming film on Ruedi's story, A Leak in Paradise

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