Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fear and loathing in Las Vegas over banking secrets of the rich and famous

Three days ago, a former Swiss banker handed over two computer disks that describe potential tax evasion by 2,000 rich people and corporations. Rudolf Elmer gave the disks to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, at a press conference in London. He did it, he said, to “educate society” about an unfair secret banking system that serves people who want to launder money.

Assange said the names will be verified by WikiLeaks and released to the public in as few as two weeks.

That has created the fear and the loathing -- and lots of work for Vegas bookmakers who are taking bets on which celebrities, politicians and business executives will be exposed. FT Alphaville writes that listed the following odds for the following celebrities on Wednesday:

Nicholas Cage +400 20%

Oprah Winfrey +250 28%
President Obama +600 14%
Wesley Snipes +200 33%
Mike Tyson +800 11%
Scott Disick +500 16%
Donald Trump +350 22%
John Edwards +400 20%
Two or more of these celebrities +100 50%

* The +/- indicates the return on the wager. The percentage is the likelihood that response will occur. For example: betting on the candidate least likely to win would earn the most amount of money, should that happen.

Meanwhile, Elmer will face trial in Switzerland for breaking Swiss laws on banking secrecy.

Why did he do it?

According to The Guardian,
he is one of a small band of employees and executives seeking to blow the whistle on what they see as unprofessional, immoral and even potentially criminal activity by powerful international financial institutions.
Elmer characterizes the people he's exposing as
"high net worth individuals", multinational conglomerates and financial institutions – hedge funds". They are said to be "using secrecy as a screen to hide behind in order to avoid paying tax". They come from the US, Britain, Germany, Austria and Asia – "from all over". Clients include "business people, politicians, people who have made their living in the arts and multinational conglomerates – from both sides of the Atlantic". Elmer says: "Well-known pillars of society will hold investment portfolios and may include houses, trading companies, artwork, yachts, jewellery, horses, and so on."
TeamsterNation can't wait to find out.