WikiLeaks plans to release a U.S. bank's documents

WASHINGTON Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:52pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The founder of whistle-blower website WikiLeaks plans to release tens of thousands of internal documents from a major U.S. bank early next year, Forbes Magazine reported on Monday.

Julian Assange declined in an interview with Forbes to identify the bank, but he said that he expected that the disclosures, which follow his group's release of U.S. military and diplomatic documents, would lead to investigations.

"We have one related to a bank coming up, that's a megaleak. It's not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it's either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it," Assange said in the interview posted on the Forbes website.

He declined to identify the bank, describing it only as a major U.S. bank that is still in existence.

Asked what he wanted to be the result of the disclosure, he replied: "I'm not sure. It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume."

He compared this release to emails that were unveiled as a result of the collapse of disgraced energy company Enron Corp.

"This will be like that. Yes, there will be some flagrant violations, unethical practices that will be revealed, but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos ... and that's tremendously valuable," Assange said.

"You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. But it's also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that's not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they're fulfilling their own self-interest," he said.

Assange also told the magazine that his group has material on many businesses and governments, including in Russia, and that it has some documents on pharmaceutical companies, which he did not identify.

More than 250,000 cables were obtained by the whistle-blower website and given to the New York Times and other media groups, which published stories on Sunday exposing the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy, including candid and embarrassing assessments of world leaders.

Before Sunday, WikiLeaks had made public nearly 500,000 classified U.S. files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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