London, Jan 17 (Agencies): A former Swiss private handed over secret data on hundreds of offshore bank account holders to the WikiLeaks website at a London news conference on Monday. Even India is seeking such information from Switzerland in order to track its own tax evaders and illegal money makers.

Rudolf Elmer once headed the office of Julius Baer in the Cayman Islands until he was fired by the bank in 2002. He is scheduled to go on trial in Switzerland on Wednesday for breaching bank secrecy.

"I think, as a banker, I do have the right to stand up if something is wrong," he said.

He handed over a CD, which allegedly contain names and account information of around 2000 individuals who have parked money offshore, to WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. The latter said information from the CD could be released within weeks.

Elmer and Jack Blum, a former US Congressional investigator and Washington lawyer who represents whistleblowers. Elmer refused to reveal the contents of the CD.

On Sunday, Elmer told agencies that he hoped his appearance at the news conference would both call attention to offshore financial abuses and promote WikiLeaks as a mechanism for other whistleblowers to air their stories.
"The main thing is educating society about offshore abuses and how they work," he said.

Some, if not most, of the material has already been handed over to government authorities in countries where the account holders are believed to reside.

Elmer told the Swiss newspaper Der Sonntag that the data involved multimillionaires, international companies and hedge funds from countries including the United States, Germany and Britain.

He said the data came from at least three financial institutions, including Julius Baer, covered the period from 1990 to 2009, and included documents leaked to him from other whistleblowers.

Elmer is facing trial in Zurich for allegedly violating tough Swiss bank secrecy rules.

He and his lawyer maintain that the case is unfair because the material that he allegedly leaked -- including some material on alleged offshore tax evasion abuses already published by WikiLeaks -- originated in the Cayman Islands, where Swiss authorities arguably lack jurisdiction.