Thursday

30th Jun 2022

Redacted tax fraud report poses questions on Juncker

  • Juncker last week said he wasn't aware of any missing page (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

A missing page from an 18-year old report is casting a shadow over the European Commission president’s alleged role in corporate tax avoidance schemes.

Sweetheart tax deals in Luxembourg enabled some 340 multinationals to legally divert hundreds of billions of euros away from national coffers elsewhere.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Designed by big accountancy firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), at least 548 were set up between 2002 and 2010, when Jean-Claude Junker presided over the Grand Duchy as its prime minister and finance minister.

But Juncker has consistently denied any role in the matter despite making claims in 2004 that he had “personally lobbied for these companies to choose Luxembourg as a European base”.

He had also in 2004 taken partial credit for attracting big firms like Amazon, AOL, and Microsoft to set up offices in his home state. Amazon has since become part of a broader probe by EU regulators into the Duchy’s low tax arrangements.

Last week, he told skeptical MEPs in the special committee on tax that they were exaggerating his “political talent in that respect.”

But a report on fiscal fraud by Luxembourg’s former economic minister and Juncker’s political rival Jeannot Krecke is rousing fresh suspicion.

The 239-page report recommended to step up audits on tax rulings. It was released to the public a few months after Juncker became PM in December 1996.

Krecke at the time had a one page on tax rulings - deemed too sensitive for public disclosure - removed before it went public.

“My decision [to redact the page] was based on the fact that I did not find it appropriate to launch an international discussion on tax rulings during our presidency”, he said in an email, seen by this website, to Fabio de Masi, a German MEP from the United Left.

Only three copies of the full report were handed out. One of those went to Juncker.

De Masi asked Juncker at a special committee hearing on 17 September to produce the missing page to help them in their broader inquiry.

But Juncker told the MEP he didn’t know anything about the report.

“And, actually, I don’t have that documentation in my cellar and I’m also not going to go in my cellar with you to go and look for it”, he said.

Krecke says he handed Juncker the full report in 1997 and then once again after the committee hearing.

“After the hearing at the European Parliament, I gave once again a version of the personal report to Mr. Juncker, as obviously he did not have any more this version”, he said.

Krecke also told a journalist from Luxembourg in an interview that he had handed Juncker a complete version of the report just before the same hearing on 17 September.

Asked to comment, Juncker’s spokesperson Margaritis Schinas on Monday (28 September) said it was up to Krecke to produce the missing page.

“If you are asking me if Mr Juncker has anything to say about the missing part, well it is up to the author to answer this question”, said Schinas.

Krecke, for his part, has declined.

Juncker denies role in tax scams

EU Commission chief Juncker says he had nothing to do with Luxembourg's sweetheart tax deals in his time as PM of the microstate.

EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Interpreters at the European Parliament are fed up with remote interpretation, citing auditory health issues given the poor quality of the online sessions.

EU opens door to Ukraine in 'geopolitical' summit

EU leaders will also discuss eurozone issues with European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde, as more and more leaders are worried about voters' distress at soaring inflation.

Opinion

The euro — who's next?

Bulgaria's target date for joining the eurozone, 1 January 2024, seems elusive. The collapse of Kiril Petkov's government, likely fresh elections, with populists trying to score cheap points against the 'diktat of the eurocrats', might well delay accession.

News in Brief

  1. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit
  2. Russia urges Nato not to build bases in Sweden, Finland
  3. New president for European Committee of the Regions
  4. Gas flows from Spain to Morocco, after Western Sahara row
  5. BioNTech, Pfizer test 'universal' coronavirus vaccine
  6. UK sanctions second-richest Russian businessman
  7. Hungary permits emergency supervision of energy firms
  8. Bulgaria expels 70 alleged Russian spies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  3. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  5. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers

Latest News

  1. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  2. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike
  3. EU's post-Covid billions flowing into black hole
  4. Nato expands and reinforces on Russian flank
  5. EU Commission says it cannot find messages with Pfizer CEO
  6. EU ministers sign off on climate laws amid German infighting
  7. EU presidency still looking for asylum relocation pledges
  8. Finland and Sweden to join Nato, as Erdoğan drops veto

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us