And Protest at PricewaterhouseCoopers head office, Villiers St, London, April 5th, 12 – 1 pm
The Global Alliance for Tax Justice has called a Week of Action for the first week of April, to coincide with the first anniversary of the ‘Panama Papers’. These were the 11 million files from the Panama law firm of Mossack Fonseca, exposed by a whistle-blower and showing how companies and wealthy individuals avoid tax by using offshore centres. This information has been invaluable in exposing the tricks and ruses used to hide from the tax authorities...
In Praise of Whistle-blowers!
Earlier whistle-blowers included Herve Falciani who provided vital information from the Swiss arm of HSBC, showing staff there had been facilitating tax dodging for years. Then in 2012, information began to emerge about the ‘sweetheart deals’ facilitated by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) between the Luxembourg Government and some 340 international companies to dodge their taxes. This was due to Antoine Deltour, a former employee of PwC in their imposing headquarters on the edge of the city of Luxembourg, who became disgusted at the way these deals were being done, left the company and brought out documentation about the behaviour of the parties involved. The Finance Minister, indeed Prime Minister, at the time was Jean-Claude Juncker.
The story broke in 2014 via journalist Edouard Perrin and this alerted another PwC employee Raphael Halet. Halet, a clerk in PwC’s imposing Luxembourg headquarters, realised he was processing documents detailing similar deals for companies like Ikea, Amazon and Apple, and leaked some to Perrin. Eventually PwC discovered him. They enlisted the Luxembourg authorities, keen to protect their European tax-haven status. Halet was arrested, with his wife, forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement under threat of being sued for ten million euros. He was given a suspended prison sentence but fortunately Perrin’s lawyer discovered the ‘agreement,’ finally at last month’s Appeal his sentence was reduced to a 1,000 euro fine. The story of how PwC bullied him is told in this article from Politico.
Halet says, ‘the real story here is about tax evasion and why we’re being told our schools and hospitals don’t have enough money’. The world urgently needs whistle/blowers like Falciani, Deltour, Halet and the Panama leaker who have provided the rest of us with information about how we are all cheated by amoral companies, ineffective Governments and pimps for the powerful like PwC – supposedly an auditor serving the common good.
In London Halet will join protestors outside PwC headquarters in Villiers St (Embankment tube) from 12 noon to 1 pm on Wednesday April 5th.
Halet will attend meeting in the House of Lords to be presented with the UK Tax Transparency Award for 2017, to recognise his invaluable work in informing the wider community. He will share some of his story and we are sure this will be a opportunity not to be missed. The event is being organised by the Methodist Tax Justice Network, supported by the wider Tax Justice Network. The Award will be presented by Lord Richard Harries, former Bishop of Oxford, author and radio broadcaster.
This is open to any who wish to come, but do leave plenty of time to get through security (sometimes 5 minutes, but at peak times 20-30). House of Lords, Committee Room 3, 4.00pm on April 5th. Afterwards, you can walk across the road to Methodist Central Hall to hear Ann Pettifor from PRIMEeconomics talk on the challenges of Brexit and a moral economy, and how fair taxation fits that picture. RSVP here.