Written by 13 h 18 min Advocacy, Press release-en, Tax evasion Advocacy

Opening of the Luxleaks Trial: Whistleblowers are Bearing the Cost of Secrecy

Press Release – 22 April 2016 

The trial of Antoine Deltour and the other two defendants in the Luxleaks case (1), including journalist Edouard Perrin (2), which starts in Luxembourg on Tuesday, 22 April, reminds us of two emergencies: the need for transparency in order to fight against the tax evasion practices of multinational corporations and the need to guarantee the protection of whistleblowers.

The members of the Tax and Legal Havens Platform, which will be in Luxembourg on Tuesday, 26 April, believe it is intolerable that Antoine Deltour and the other two defendants in this trial, who revealed practices which are extremely harmful for states, should today be in the dock. (3)

‘Antoine Deltour is facing up to five years in prison for revealing a serious violation of the public good, and allowed us to find out about the hundreds of secret tax agreements passed between multinational corporations and the Luxembourgish tax authorities in order to evade taxes. At a time when tax evasion is costing our states hundreds of billions of Euros each year, those who practice it are not being questioned, while those who denounce it are. ‘It is absurd to put Antoine Deltour on trial for acting as a citizen’, according to Lucie Watrinet, in charge of advocacy concerning development financing at CCFD-Terre Solidaire, and the co-ordinator of the Tax and Legal Haven Platform. ‘Antoine Deltour and the other defendants in this case are bearing the cost of the secrecy of a system which is also harmful to democracy. If true transparency rules existed, and citizens had access to key information concerning the activities of corporations and the amount of tax they pay, Luxleaks, the Panama Papers and the other tax evasion scandals could have been avoided and this trial would not be taking place’, adds Lison Rehbinder, in charge of the Tax Justice mission at Peuples solidaires ActionAid France.

In order to put an end to the practices revealed notably by the Luxleaks case, multinational corporations must be required to publish information concerning their operations and the tax they pay in every country where they are active. And not merely in EU countries and certain tax havens, as the European Commission suggested on 12 April. The members of the Tax and Legal Haven Platform expect Member States, starting with France and its new statute concerning transparency, the fight against corruption and the modernisation of the economy (Loi Sapin 2), to go further than the Commission’s proposal and extend reporting to every country in which multinational corporations are established.

‘With the ‘Loi Sapin 2’, which will shortly be examined at the National Assembly, Members of the French Parliament have a unique chance to make France an exemplary country in terms of transparency and whistleblower protection. After the Panama Papers case, and the adoption by the European Union of the Trade Secrets Directive, it is high time to act’, said Manon Aubry, in charge of tax justice and inequality advocacy at Oxfam France.

The members of the Tax and Legal Haven Platform therefore also call upon the Members of the French Parliament to seize upon the ‘Loi Sapin 2’ in order to finally grant a comprehensive status and effective protection to whistleblowers in France. They lastly call upon the European Union to adopt an efficient system to protect whistleblowers: this is the minimum requirement after the Trade Secrets Directive, to which our organizations remain strongly opposed, was passed by the European Parliament on 13 April.

(1) On 5 November 2014, the Luxleaks scandal revealed hundreds of secret tax agreements passed by PwC on behalf of multinational corporations with the Luxembourgish tax authorities, in order to evade taxes. These revelations shook the whole of Europe and led Member States to commit to action plans on this issue.

(2) Journalist at the Première ligne agency, which produces French documentary programme ‘Cash Investigation’.

(3) Antoine Deltour is on trial for ‘robbery, laundering and fraudulent access to a database, trade secret violations, professional confidentiality violations, laundering of the obtained documents’. He faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine of over 1 million Euros. Edouard Perrin is facing the same counts.

Last modified: 7 August 2023