Thursday

6th Aug 2020

LuxLeaks whistleblowers sentenced again

  • Supporters of whistleblower Antoine Deltour. The LuxLeaks case had been presented as a showcase by transparency and anti-tax evasion activists. (Photo: Mélanie Poulain)

LuxLeaks whistleblowers were convicted again by Luxembourg's court of appeal on Wednesday (15 March) but with reduced sentences compared to the first verdict.

Antoine Deltour, a former PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) employee who leaked documents showing how the company helped multinational companies to evade tax in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, was given a 6-month suspended sentence and fined €1,500.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

  • Deltour (r) got a 6-month suspended sentence. (Photo: European Parliament)

Raphael Halet, another PwC employee who had helped Deltour, was fined €1,000. 

After the first trial last year, Deltour received a 12-month suspended sentence and a fine of €1,500. Halet was fined €1,000 and given a nine-month suspended sentence.

Edouard Perrin, a journalist who had revealed the tax evasion scheme in a programme on French TV in 2012, was acquitted for the second time.

Both Deltour and Halet were convicted of theft of tax rulings and computer fraud. Both were cleared of the charge of trade secret violation.

Halet was convicted of violating professional confidentiality, while Deltour was cleared of the charge thanks to his whistleblower status.

The court had recognised Deltour and Halet's whistleblower status but had noted that it did not protect them under national or European law.

"This disappointing judgment constitutes an additional argument for going ahead with recent European initiatives towards whistleblowers’ protection," Antoine Deltour said in a statement published by the defendants' support committee after the verdict.

The group, Support Antoine, said that the court's decision presented "a disturbing contradiction".

"It recognizes the whistleblower’s role and the public interest of the revelations but anyhow concludes on a condemnation," it said in the statement.

"Once again, private financial interests seem to take priority over the collective interest and the rights for information."

Activists have used the LuxLeaks case to showcase the need for more transparency and anti-tax evasion measures. Whistleblower protection has been a main focus.

LuxLeaks revelations

PwC first filed a complaint after the first revelations in 2012. But further revelations by a network of newspapers in the so-called LuxLeaks project in 2014 showed the extent of the tax evasion schemes uncovered by Deltour and Halet.

The LuxLeaks revelations showed how tax rulings allowed more than 300 companies to pay almost no taxes in Luxembourg, using it as a tax haven to avoid paying billions of taxes in other countries where these companies also operate.

The revelations came just after Jean-Claude Juncker, the longstanding prime minister of the Grand Duchy who reigned during the time the tax rulings were developed, became president of the European Commission.

The extent of the revelations, after several years of financial and economic crisis, pushed the EU executive led by Juncker as well as member states to propose and adopt tighter rules on tax evasion and tax fraud.

Molly Scott Cato, a British Green MEP, said on Wednesday that without Deltour and Halet's revelations, "the significant tax reforms that are now being agreed by the EU institutions would not have happened".

She said that "the LuxLeaks scandal highlights the need for tax rulings to be made public and for companies to be obliged to publicly disclose where they do business. It also draws attention to the urgency of making progress with EU-wide whistleblower protection legislation."

While "corporate tax dodging is costing billions of euros every year," whistleblowers like Deltour and Halet "deserve praise, not punishment", said Tove Maria Ryding from the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad).

"It is scandalous that those who did an invaluable service to society, risking their careers, have again been found guilty while the rich and powerful rob hundreds of billions of euros from citizens," said radical-left MEP Fabio De Masi, who is vice-chair of the European Parliament’s inquiry committee for Panama Papers, another raft of revelations on tax evasion practices.

The LuxLeaks revelations also triggered a special committee in the parliament, to shed light on tax rulings in Europe.

Its chair, French center-right MEP Alain Lamassoure told MEPs on Tuesday that "fair competition and tax justice" were making progress but three conditions were needed to address citizens' demands for more transparency.

He said that corporate tax systems in Europe have to be harmonised, through the so-called common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) scheme that is still under discussion.

He also said that whistleblowers should be granted Europe-wide protection.

The third condition, he added, is that EU finance ministers politically back the Code of Conduct Group, a body set up in the EU council to work on preventing harmful tax competition.

LuxLeaks whistleblowers fined and put on probation

Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet, former employees at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) who revealed how corporations hid away profits, were fined and given suspended sentences by a court in Luxembourg.

LuxLeaks trial to be whistleblower showcase

The trial of Antoine Deltour, who leaked documents on Luxembourg's sweetheart tax deals with big firms, will be used by campaigners and politicians to push for a law to protect whistleblowers.

LuxLeaks forces discussion on EU-wide protections

LuxLeak whistleblower Antoine Deltour is urging justice ministers to help put in place rules to protect people across Europe who leak confidential information for the public good.

EUobserver under attack in wider battle for EU free press

If EU citizens want to know the truth, then journalists need protection from malicious litigation, as EUobserver joined the list of targets, over an article about the late Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Rainbow flag protesters charged by Polish police
  2. An open letter to the EPP on end of Hungary's press freedom
  3. Renew Europe has a plan to combat gender-violence
  4. Why EU beats US on green pandemic recovery
  5. Azerbaijan ambassador to EU shared anti-George Floyd post
  6. Polish party roars back at EU on LGBTI fines
  7. EU: Hong Kong election delay undermines democracy
  8. Why hydrogen is no magic solution for EU Green Deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us