Former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer found guilty of passing secrets to WikiLeaks, avoids prison

BERLIN – A former private banker found has been found guilty in Switzerland of breaking the country’s strict secrecy laws by passing confidential client data to WikiLeaks in 2007.

Rudolf Elmer claims he was trying to expose rich tax evaders banking with his former employer, Julius Baer, which fired him in 2002.

Elmer’s lawyer, Ganden Tethong, says Zurich’s district court also found her client guilty of forging a document purporting to be a letter from the bank to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The court handed Elmer a 16,800 Swiss francs ($19,300) fine Monday, suspended for three years. Prosecutors had demanded a 3 1/2-year prison sentence.

Tethong says she was appealing the verdict along with an earlier sentence in a related case.

Elmer’s documents contributed to pressure on Switzerland to relax banking secrecy.