Fine for Swiss banker who WikiLeaked

The banker who claims to have handed WikiLeaks details of rich tax evaders was yesterday found guilty of breaking Switzerland's strict banking secrecy laws.

A judge at Zurich's Regional Court fined Rudolf Elmer 6,000 Swiss francs (3,750).

Mr Elmer claimed at his trial in the country's banking capital that he acted after being persecuted by his former employer Julius Baer.

He also claimed he wanted to expose widespread tax evasion by rich businesspeople and politicians when he sent confidential banking files to tax authorities, media and later WikiLeaks.

Judge Sebastian Aeppli rejected prosecution demands to give him an eight-month prison sentence.

Zurich prosecutors claim Elmer stole client data after being fired from his job at the Cayman Islands branch of Julius Baer, and then tried to extort money from the Swiss-based bank and its senior executives.

Prosecutor Alexandra Bergmann also alleged that the 55-year-old illegally gave details on the bank's offshore clients to tax authorities, media and later WikiLeaks.

On Monday Elmer publicly handed over two more data CDs to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London and claimed the disks contained names of 2,000 wealthy account holders, but refused to give details of the companies or individuals involved.

Several Swiss banks including UBS and Credit Suisse have suffered embarrassing data leaks in recent years – some at the hands of disgruntled employees. Elmer claims he was trying to expose a widespread system of tax evasion by rich businesspeople and politicians.

His actions caused a US judge to shut down WikiLeaks for two weeks in early 2008, marking the only time that the secrecy-spilling website has been forced offline for a significant amount of time.

Since then, WikiLeaks has shot into public consciousness for publishing thousands of secret US military and diplomatic files.