#LuxLeaks: Whistleblower Antoine Deltour’s trial starts

Taxes Concept. Word on Folder Register of Card Index. Selective Focus.

Today (26 April) the trial of Antoine Deltour begins in Luxembourg. Deltour is the whistleblower behind LuxLeaks which revealed secret tax rulings between Luxembourg authorities and companies with the aim of avoiding tax. The revelations led to the establishment of a Special Committee on Tax Rulings and Other Measures Similar in Nature of Effect,  in the European Parliament. It also prompted action by the European Commission to propose new measures against tax avoidance measures.

The trial stems from a complaint brought by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), Deltour’s former employer. Transparency International (TI) have called on PwC to withdraw their complaints.

“Deltour should be protected and commended, not prosecuted. The information he disclosed was in the public interest,” said Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director of Transparency International.  “Therefore, we have asked PwC Luxembourg to withdraw their complaints.”

Whistleblowers like Deltour play a critical role in fighting corruption and other malpractice. Too often they pay a high price: whistleblowers may lose their jobs or are prosecuted, even if their disclosure benefits the public interest. At the moment there is little protection. Hervé Falciani the whistleblower behind Swiss Leaks was indicted by the Swiss federal government for violating the country’s bank secrecy laws and for industrial espionage, the clear public interest behind the leak was ignored and a five year prison sentence was handed down.

TI report that most European countries do not have whistleblower protection laws and if they do, as in Luxembourg, they are often inadequate. Under the Luxembourg law, Deltour is not considered a whistleblower because the legislation is limited to corruption offences. In addition, it only protects whistleblowers against dismissal, not against prosecution.

Deltour faces charges of theft, violating Luxembourg’s professional secrecy laws, violation of trade secrets, and illegally accessing a database. If found guilty he faces up to ten years in jail and a fine of up to €1,250,000. Nearly 125,000 people have already signed a petition in support of Deltour. Click here if you would like to add your name to the petition.

We spoke to Jeppe Kofod MEP, S&D Co-rapporteur of the TAX2 report about whistleblowers, the European Commission’s proposals and what further action is needed in this area:

TI is supporting Deltour and Raphael Halet, also a former employee of PwC, who faces similar charges. Halet remained anonymous until last week. Many whistleblowers do not disclose their identity in order to protect themselves from retaliation. Therefore, TI advocates for legislation that protects confidential and anonymous disclosures.

TI also call for the press to be free to publish information in the public interest, without harassment or repercussions. As was reported by the BBC with Swiss Leaks, which concerned data from HSBC private bank, HSBC placed pressure on newspapers to withdraw advertising revenue if the story was covered.

To provide a safe alternative to silence, TI urges all countries to enact and strongly enforce comprehensive whistleblowing laws based on prevailing international standards, including those developed by TI and by the Council of Europe.

Green Party proposes action to defend whistleblowers

The trial of Luxembourg Leaks whistleblower Antoine Deltour began in Luxembourg today and runs until 4 May. A number of Greens/EFA MEPs are present in Luxembourg for the trial today and over the coming week, including Benedek Javor MEP, Pascal Canfin MEP, Julia Reda MEP and Sven Giegold MEP. Sven Giegold will also testify at the trial as a witness on Friday, 29 April.

Coinciding with the trial, the Greens/EFA group is trying to push for a comprehensive framework for the protection of whistleblowers at EU level. The group will present a draft EU directive on whistleblower protection next week at a public conference on 4 May

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Category: A Frontpage, Competition, Corporate tax rules, EU, European Commission, European Parliament, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Tax dodging, Taxation

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