January 24, 2011 / 8:03 AM / 7 years ago

Swiss ex-banker Elmer held on remand-defence lawyer

* Elmer suspected of breaching Swiss bank law

* Ex-Julius Baer banker to appeal court’s decision

(Adds details, background)

ZURICH, Jan 24 (Reuters) - A Zurich court decided former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer should be held on remand after police questioned him last week over possible breaches of Swiss bank law, his defence lawyer’s office said over the weekend.

Elmer would appeal the court’s decision within 10 days, said a statement dated Jan. 22 on the office of defence lawyer Ganden Tethong’s website.

Elmer was taken into custody by police on Wednesday evening after he handed over computer discs to WikiLeaks earlier last week. The former Julius Baer BAER.VX banker indicated the CDs contained details of as many as 2,000 offshore bank accounts.

In a separate case earlier on Wednesday, Elmer was convicted of breaching strict banking secrecy by passing on private client data to the tax authorities and of threatening employees at his former company. He has already appealed this verdict. [ID:nLDE70J1RI]

Switzerland’s secrecy in the banking sector helped the country build a $2-trillion wealth management industry but the laws have come under intense global attack in recent years, with neighbouring Germany buying secret data from informants to track down tax evaders.

Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblower site WikiLeaks attacked Switzerland on Sunday for arresting Elmer instead of investigating the tax evasion he said Elmer had uncovered. [ID:nLDE70M07T]

Swiss media have speculated that the data Elmer handed to WikiLeaks on Wednesday concerned Julius Baer operations in the Cayman Islands, where Elmer had headed its operations, and are therefore not covered by laws protecting Swiss banking secrecy. (Reporting by Jason Rhodes and Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Matthew Jones)

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