Friday

20th Jan 2017

New court appeal clouds LuxLeaks whistleblowers future

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers helped companies obtain at least 548 tax rulings in Luxembourg from 2002 to 2010. (Photo: Mélanie Poulain)

Luxembourg's justice department says whistleblowers who revealed massive state sanctioned tax evasion may or may not face harsher sentences after a public prosecutor opened a counter-appeal against them earlier this week.

Henri Eippers, a spokesperson from the justice department, told EUobserver on Thursday (4 August) that public prosecutors filed a general appeal against the three defendants in the so-called LuxLeaks scandal.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"It is just to have a global view on the file and to have all three together," he said.

Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet were each given 12 and 9 month suspended jail sentences in June for handing over thousands of documents from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to journalist Edouard Perrin.

Perrin, who had first exposed the scandal on French television in 2012, was acquitted of all charges.

The documents show how multinationals used Luxembourg's public tax rulings to avoid paying billions in tax in other countries.

The full scale of the scandal came to light in November 2014 when the International Consortium of Journalists released a series of articles on the Luxembourg schemes.

They found that big companies like Pepsi, IKEA, and Deutsche Bank had slashed their tax bills from the 29 percent corporate tax rate to close to zero.

The revelations are a major embarrassment for the European Commission, whose president Jean-Claude Juncker was both prime minister and finance minister of Luxembourg at the time of the rulings.

Both Deltour and Halet have since appealed against their verdict.

Eippers said the move by the public prosecutor to lodge a general appeal last week is standard procedure. It means all three will have to respond, including Perrin who was acquitted.

"For the moment, it is not said that the state prosecutor will demand harsher sanctions against Mr Perrin, that is not said," said Eippers.

Perrin targeted

Tove Maria Ryding, tax justice coordinator at the European Network on Debt and Development, described the appeal as shocking.

"We fully understand why the two whistleblowers appealed their sentences, which were extremely harsh,” she said.

“But the court decided to let the journalist go free without punishment. It's quite shocking that Luxembourg doesn't just step back and let him go, but instead seems determined to pursue Mr Perrin too."

Fabio de Masi, a German MEP from the United Left, who helped spearhead an EU parliament inquiry into the scandal said Luxembourg's public prosecutor would be better off probing Marius Kohl, a high-ranking, now retired official in Luxembourg's tax agency, who helped broker the deals.

"Why is the prosecutor not investigating Marius Kohl instead who provided PwC with the official letterhead of the Luxembourg administration, which is highly corrupt," he said an email.

De Masi said the EU needs whistleblower legislation to help protect people who expose breaches to EU laws.

"I fear the Juncker commission will not protect Perrin, Deltour and Halet from this mafia style prosecution," he said.

EU should raise own taxes, says report

A group chaired by former Italian PM and EU commissioner Mario Monti says Brexit should be used to create EU-level levies to depend less on member states contributions, and to abolish member states rebates in the EU budget.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey