Banking will be targeted in the next batch of WikiLeaks releases, the website's founder, Julian Assange, has said.
Mr Assange said that he planned to publish a major leak exposing a "big US bank" early next year, uncovering "flagrant violations" that "could take down a bank or two".
He refused to give any more details as to the company's identity, nor to speculate on whether it would reveal criminal offences, but compared the scale of the release to that of the emails that came to light following the collapse of Enron. "It's not as big a scale as the Iraq material," he told the business magazine Forbes, "but it's either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it."
Mr Assange said that WikiLeaks had so far prioritised releasing leaked documents relating to governments and international relations, but estimated that about 50 per cent of the information it was holding related to private-sector companies. He confirmed that the website was in possession of many documents relating to BP, but was still assessing if the material was "original". Pharmaceutical firms could also be implicated by future leaks.
Asked for an example of the kinds of cases he envisaged exposing, he referred to one involving an unnamed Texan-Canadian oil company. "They had these wells in Albania that had been blowing. Quite serious... They were being sabotaged. The Albanian government was involved with another company."