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March 6, 2008 - Phil Hodgen

Resolution of Bank Julius Baer litigation — Bank gives up

Bank Julius Baer did the only sensible thing it could have done. It dismissed the California litigation against Wikileaks.

Brief synopsis, as far as I know it.

Employee of Bank Julius Baer steals internal documents — private, secret stuff exposing (by name) customers of the Bank. Employee becomes ex-employee of Bank Julius Baer.

Employee and Bank play Angryland for a few years. Skill sets of players unknown, but apparently bush league, given that the game goes on for a long time. Employee kicks up a snit. Employee posts private documents stuff on the internet on wikileaks.org.

Bank’s lawyers, with an Everest-like obliviousness, file a lawsuit in California. (The combatants are nowhere near California, by the way. Not even the same continent). Bank’s lawyers successfully achieve Employee’s desired results for him — everyone, all over the world, now knows about this. What was of minor interest to a few hundred people has now put a permanent divot in the Bank’s reputation.

Bank executives swallow their sanity pills, dismiss lawsuit. Nothing to see here, please move along. Back to business.

Bank can now do what it should have done originally — pursue the employee for stealing internal documents and publicizing them.

Lessons learned

1. Bankers? Judgment trumps blind aggression. You can’t blame your lawyers. You hired them. Sorry.

2. People relying on bank secrecy for tax benefits? It’s a doomed strategy. Murphy works where you have your money parked.

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