Swiss Accounts and Wikileaks

According to an article in the January 19, 2011 edition of the Toronto Star, a former employee at Julius Baer – a Swiss Private Banking Group – has provided the names of about 2,000 clients to the website Wikileaks.  This former employee, who had been shopping this information to tax authorities, was fined in Switzerland for contravening Switzerland’s bank secrecy laws.

The quality of the information provided by this former employee has been questioned as he was shopping this information to various tax authorities for years.  It is assumed that the speed in which a tax authority purchases confidential information is directly correlated with its quality.  In other words, high quality information would be purchased by Western tax authorities very quickly.  Despite the concerns over the quality of the information, the report indicates that one tax evasion charge has flowed from this information.

This is just another example of a disgruntled employee at a Swiss bank who stole information from his employer to seek retribution.  With the increasing frequency of this type of behavior, it is unclear how long Switzerland can credibly maintain its bank secrecy laws.