A Luxembourg court on Wednesday gave reduced sentences on appeal to two “Luxleaks” whistleblowers, Antoine Deltour and co-defendant Raphael Halet. convicted of leaking thousands of documents from PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of largest accounting firms in the world, that revealed tax breaks for multinational firms.
Investigative journalist Edouard Perrin who used the leaked information to produce reports for French television was acquitted in June last year.
The former employee of the auditing firm PwC Antoine Deltour together with Raphael Halet and the journalist Edouard Perrin had revealed the so-called Luxleaks scandal. It was only this scandal about Luxembourg’s secret tax deals with hundreds of companies that prompted the European Commission and Member States to finally address tax evasion.
In June 2016, the journalist Edouard Perrin was released from all charges against him whereas Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet were given suspended sentence
and a financial penalty respectively. Both whistleblowers appealed against the verdict. The Luxembourg Public Prosecutor’s Office filed an appeal against Perrin, so that he also had to appear in court.
Today, Antoine Deltour has been sentenced to six months on probation and 1,500 Euros fine while Raphael Halet has received a 1,000 Euros fine.
Sven Giegold, the financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, said:
“The verdict confuses justice with injustice by reducing heros to
criminals. Whistleblowers that act in the public interest should be
protected, not prosecuted. People acting for the common good must be
able to rely on the protection of society. The Luxembourg Court made an
example of them which will contribute to silence future whistleblowers.
Ultimately, only European Courts may be able to appeal against this
verdict and bring justice to Deltour and Halet.”
The S&Ds are hugely disappointed by today’s verdict that the charges against LuxLeaks whistleblowers will be upheld. On the back of this verdict, the S&Ds will step up their fight for comprehensive EU-wide legislation to ensure protection for those who bravely speak out about unethical tax dealings.
S&D MEP Virginie Rozière, co-rapporteur for the Parliament’s report on whistleblowers, said:
“I am deeply saddened to see that the charges against Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet have not been dropped following their appeal. We must remember that it is only thanks to their bravery, strength and sense of morality that we are today more aware of the scale of tax evasion in Europe. Regardless of the verdict, I would like to stress once again my complete and continued support for them.
“For millions of honest and hardworking European citizens, our failure to tackle multinational tax evasion undermines faith in public policies. It is therefore now more important than ever that the European Parliament delivers on tax transparency, and the S&Ds will continue to lead the way in this fight. A crucial step forward would be to introduce EU-wide legislation to guarantee the protection of people who are acting to expose the shady dealings of the global elites.”
Last year, Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner, said that the whistleblowers and investigative journalists responsible for the LuxLeaks should be thanked.