In an interview with Forbes, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says that his whistleblower site will release tens of thousands of documents from a major US financial firm in early 2011. Assange will not say exactly what date, what bank, or what documents, but he compare the coming release to the emails that emerged in the Enron trial – a comprehensive look at a corporation’s bad behavior.
“You could call it the ecosystem of corruption.”
“It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume,” the Whistleblower in Chief. Julian Assange, says.“You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. But it’s also all the regular decision-making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest.”
So, the big buzz on Wall Street at the moment is; who is that bank?
I won’t speculate, but I’m really looking forward to see what Assange & Co comes up with next time.
WikiLeaks have recently published hundreds of thousands of government documents: 76,000 classified documents from the war in Afghanistan, another 392,000 from Iraq, and on Sunday, the first piece of an ongoing exposure of millions of diplomatic messages sent between the US State Department and its embassies.
Assange says the site has received more documents than its able to publish. About half those unpublished submissions are related to the private sector.
He confirmed that WikiLeaks has damaging, unpublished material from the pharmaceutical industry, financial firms, and energy companies.
The Forbes interview with Julian Assange is quite an interesting read.
Here’s a little part of it:
JA: We’re totally source dependent. We get what we get. As our profile rises in a certain area, we get more in a particular area. People say, why don’t you release more leaks from the Taliban. So I say hey, help us, tell more Taliban dissidents about us.
F: These megaleaks, as you call them, we haven’t seen any of those from the private sector.
JA: No, not at the same scale as for the military.
F: Will we?
JA: Yes. We have one related to a bank coming up, that’s a megaleak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it.
F: Is it a US bank?
JA: Yes, it’s a US bank.
F: One that still exists?
JA: Yes, a big US bank.
F: The biggest US bank?
JA: No comment.
F: When will it happen?
JA: Early next year. I won’t say more.
F: What do you want to be the result of this release?
JA: [Pauses] I’m not sure.
It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume.
Usually when you get leaks at this level, it’s about one particular case or one particular violation. For this, there’s only one similar example. It’s like the Enron emails. Why were these so valuable? When Enron collapsed, through court processes, thousands and thousands of emails came out that were internal, and it provided a window into how the whole company was managed. It was all the little decisions that supported the flagrant violations.
This will be like that. Yes, there will be some flagrant violations, unethical practices that will be revealed, but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos that cames out, and that’s tremendously valuable. Like the Iraq War Logs, yes there were mass casualty incidents that were very newsworthy, but the great value is seeing the full spectrum of the war.
You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. But it’s also all the regular decision-making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest. The way they talk about it.
F: How many dollars were at stake in this?
JA: We’re still investigating. All I can say is it’s clear there were unethical practices, but it’s too early to suggest there’s criminality. We have to be careful about applying criminal labels to people until we’re very sure.
F: Can you tell me anything about what kind of unethical behavior we’re talking about?
F: You once said to one of my colleagues that WikiLeaks has material on BP. What have you got?
JA: We’ve got lots now, but we haven’t determined how much is original. There’s been a lot of press on the BP issue, and lawyers, and people are pulling out a lot of stuff. So I suspect the material we have on BP may not be that original. We’ll have to see whether our stuff is especially unique.
F: The Russian press has reported that you plan to target Russian companies and politicians. I’ve heard from other WikiLeaks sources that this was blown out of proportion.
JA: It was blown out of proportion when the FSB reportedly said not to worry, that they could take us down. But yes, we have material on many business and governments, including in Russia. It’s not right to say there’s going to be a particular focus on Russia.
F: Let’s just walk through other industries. What about pharmaceutical companies?
JA: Yes. To be clear, we have so much unprocessed stuff, I’m not even sure about all of it. These are just things I’ve briefly looked at or that one of our people have told me about.
F: How much stuff do you have? How many gigs or terabytes?
JA: I’m not sure. I haven’t had time to calculate.
F: Continuing then: The tech industry?
JA: We have some material on spying by a major government on the tech industry. Industrial espionage.
F: US? China?
JA: The US is one of the victims.
F: What about the energy industry?
F: Aside from BP?
F: On environmental issues?
JA: A whole range of issues.
F: Can you give me some examples?
JA: One example: It began with something we released last year, quite an interesting case that wasn’t really picked up by anyone. There’s a Texas Canadian oil company whose name escapes me. And they had these wells in Albania that had been blowing. Quite serious. We got this report from a consultant engineer into what was happening, saying vans were turning up in the middle of the night doing something to them. They were being sabotaged. The Albanian government was involved with another company; There were two rival producers and one was government-owned and the other was privately owned.
So when we got this report; It didn’t have a header. It didn’t say the name of the firm, or even who the wells belonged to.
Read the whole interview with Julian Assange – and more about WikiLeaks – at Forbes.com.
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- WikiLeaks’ Next Target: Wall Street (cbsnews.com)
- Assange and WikiLeaks new target: A big American bank (riehlworldview.com)
- WikiLeaks to target major US bank next: report – The Hindu (news.google.com)
- WikiLeaks to Reveal U.S. Bank Documents Next (dailyfinance.com)