Wednesday

5th Oct 2022

LuxLeaks source appeals for EU whistleblower laws

  • Deltour in Brussels on Monday (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Antoine Deltour, who faces prison after showing how Luxembourg cost the EU billions in lost tax revenue, has appealed for better protection for whistleblowers.

He told the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday (1 June) that he’s “proud of what has resulted from my case … I see it as recognition for my decision to go public”.

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

But he added that other “whistleblowers are [being] discouraged by [the] consequences I’m undergoing”.

Luxembourg has one of the most advanced whistleblower protection regimes in the EU, according to the Berlin-based NGO Transparency International (TI).

Its law on “strengthening the means to fight corruption” gives cover to public and private sector employees who report criminal activity to their superiors or to Luxembourg authorities.

But it doesn’t cover people who report unethical behaviour or who leak to media or civil society.

"You are protected if you reveal illegalities. The [tax] rulings that I disclosed aren’t illegal, even though they go against the public interest. This is why I went to the press and not to the authorities”, Deltour said.

The former employee at PwC, an audit firm, five years ago passed 28,000 internal files to a French reporter.

The files, published in December by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, show that the Grand Duchy let hundreds of big companies pay almost no tax in sweetheart deals, known as “comfort letters”, which also resulted in lost revenue for fellow EU states.

The revelations triggered a European Commission probe and a European Parliament special committee on “LuxLeaks”.

They also shamed EU commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, a former Luxembourg PM.

Luxembourg prosecutors, the same month, indicted Deltour on charges which could see him jailed for five years and fined €1.25 million.

An aide to Luxembourg’s interior minister, who asked not to be named, told EUobserver on Monday the case isn’t politically motivated because the Duchy’s judiciary “has total independence … there’s full separation of powers”.

But Molly Scott Cato, a British Green MEP on the LuxLeaks committee, the same day accused Luxembourg of “state oppression of a person acting in the public good”.

Alain Lamassoure, the French centre-right committee chair, also said the EU should take action on whistleblowers.

The parliament support is part of a wider pro-Deltour campaign, endorsed by leading NGOs, academics, and journalists, as well as Edward Snowden, the US intelligence leaker who failed to get EU asylum.

A commission spokesman told this website the bloc’s new anti-money laundering directive, which shortly enters into force, includes some protection.

He noted that a second bill, on trade secrets, which is still under discussion, also includes protection.

But he added that “criminal law is basically a member state competence”.

Carl Dolan, the head of TI’s Brussels’ office, said there’s “very uneven protection for whistleblowers around the EU”.

He added: "The Deltour case shows that the kind of issues you might want to reveal have an impact beyond one country’s borders".

“There should be a minimum level of protection around the EU because of the cross-border impact of, for instance, tax decisions. But governments are very reluctant to move forward on this”.

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.

MEPs condemn EU Commission 'leniency' on Hungary

MEPs criticised the EU Commission for what they see as the executive not being tough enough on the government of Viktor Orbán, as Hungary's parliament passed new legislation as part of a deal with the EU executive.

Opinion

What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

News in Brief

  1. Russia's stand-in EU ambassador reprimanded on Ukraine
  2. France warns over incoming eighth Covid wave
  3. EU adds Anguilla, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos to tax-haven blacklist
  4. Czechs warn joint-nationality citizens in Russia on mobilisation
  5. Greece to unveil proposal for capping EU gas prices
  6. Four dead, 29 missing, after dinghy found off Canary Islands
  7. Orbán: German €200bn shield is start of 'cannibalism in EU'
  8. Lithuania expels top Russian diplomat

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. EU debates new pandemic-type loans to deal with crisis
  2. MEPs condemn EU Commission 'leniency' on Hungary
  3. Czech EU presidency wants asylum pledges to be secret
  4. European navies must stay on Suez trade routes, EU diplomats warn
  5. Macron's 'European Political Community' — how could it work?
  6. EU adopts common charger law, forces iPhone redesign
  7. Last-minute legal changes to Bosnian election law stir controversy
  8. EU wants probe into alleged war crimes by Azerbaijan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us