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A Swiss banker, due to go on trial for breaking bank secrecy laws, has handed over account details of 2,000 multinationals, financial firms and wealthy individuals to WikiLeaks.

Rudolf Elmer, former chief operating officer in the Cayman Islands for Swiss bank Julies Baer, said the data includes the offshore accounts of 40 politicians from across the globe.

“I was close to giving up. A friend of mine told me ‘There is WikiLeaks’. I looked at it and made contact. That’s the only hope I have to get the society to know what is going on,” he said in London.

Elmer claims after he decided to publish the data he was imprisoned and offered cash to buy his silence.

WikiLeaks head, Julian Assange, expects a vigorous defence by the banks: “We have had more legal threats and attempted lawsuits by banks than any other organisations. None have been successful and I do not expect them to be successful in the future.”

Elmer has been involved in a long running row with Swiss banks over secrecy and had approached universities and tax authorities with his data but no one was interested.

Elmer is due to go on trial in Switzerland on Wednesday.

WikiLeaks said it will release the information in a matter of weeks, once it has been vetted.

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