Swiss court rejects whistleblower suit against Julius Baer

ZURICH, March 23 (Reuters) - Switzerland’s top court has dismissed a whistleblower’s lawsuit against private bank Julius Baer and employees, in which the whistleblower claimed damages to his reputation and finances, the latest twist in a decade-long saga.

Rudolf Elmer had claimed that Julius Baer and three current and former bank employees, who testified that he violated bank secrecy laws by handing over data about offshore clients to WikiLeaks, had misled prosecutors over his employment status. This led to criminal proceedings being extended, which cost him money, and harmed his reputation, he claimed.

The ruling by the Swiss Federal Court was made on March 17 and made public on Thursday.

Elmer, a former senior executive at Zurich-based Baer’s Cayman Islands office was twice found guilty, in 2011 and 2015, of breaking secrecy laws by handing over data about clients.

But Zurich’s upper court acquitted Elmer in August last year of the banking secrecy charges, saying that as an employee of Baer’s Cayman Islands subsidiary he was not a Swiss banker subject to the country’s bank secrecy laws.

He got a 14-month suspended sentence for forging documents and threatening the bank following his 2002 dismissal.

Elmer launched the lawsuit against the bank in 2015.

“They didn’t consider the evidence at all,” Elmer told Reuters by phone on Thursday after the ruling was made public. “It was just another decision, I believe, to silence me.”

Julius Baer, Switzerland’s third-biggest bank, said in a statement that it had taken note of the March 17 ruling.

The Swiss Federal Court will issue a final ruling on the banking secrecy matter after prosecutors appealed against the Zurich upper court’s ruling.

Elmer said he might take the Federal Court’s ruling to the European Court of Human Rights. He said he has also filed a complaint against one employee with Switzerland’s financial market watchdog. (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Susan Fenton)