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"A dark day for truth-telling": Whistleblowers who alerted the world to Luxleaks tax scandal convicted

Both avoided jail, however.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

TWO WHISTLEBLOWERS IN the “LuxLeaks” tax scandal were given suspended jail sentences yesterday for leaking thousands of documents that exposed Luxembourg’s huge tax breaks for major international companies.

The LuxLeaks scandal sparked a major global push against the generous deals handed to multinationals that grew even further after the Panama Papers revelations earlier this year.

Former PricewaterhouseCoopers employees Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet received 12-month and nine-month sentences respectively while journalist Edouard Perrin was acquitted of all charges.

In his ruling, Judge Marc Thill recognised the defendants’ status as whistleblowers and their “undeniable contribution… to greater transparency” on tax matters.

The documents revealed the huge tax breaks that tiny EU nation Luxembourg offered international firms including Apple, IKEA and Pepsi, at a time when Jean-Claude Juncker, now head of the European Commission, was prime minister.

The revelations ended up forcing the EU to take urgent steps to stop global firms avoiding tax in Europe, including anti-trust inquiries into firms like Apple, McDonald’s and Amazon.

Transparency

Whistleblowers’ group Whistleblowing International Network (WIN) said the fact that Deltour and Halet were convicted was bad for Europe.

“This is a dark day for truth-telling in Europe,” said Anna Myers, Co-Chair of WIN and Executive Director of the Government Accountability Project in Washington DC.

“Deltour and Halet acted in the public interest.

“The conviction sends out the message that the commercial interests of PricewaterhouseCoopers Luxembourg and its clients are more important than the public’s right to know about potential abuses of EU tax systems.”

WIN condemned the prosecution, which it said caused needless suffering for the three men and set a very negative precedent for whistleblowers and investigative journalists across the EU.

It has been argued that the prosecution will also have a “chilling effect” on other whistleblowers and witnesses of impropriety by making it clear that breaches of confidence will be met with the prospect of significant financial losses and imprisonment.

With AFP reporting

Read: Double Irish? Peh, global brands used Luxembourg to avoid billions in tax

Read: The EU is considering a minimum corporate tax rate, and that’s bad news for Ireland

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