Tax Whistleblower's Appeal Fails

Suspended Jail Sentence and Fines Upheld in Luxembourg

The convictions of the two whistle-blowers who gave the world the ‘Lux-leaks’ stories have been upheld, although their suspended prison sentences have been reduced, writes Christian on the Left David Haslam, who has been following this story.

The appeals of Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet resulted in a six-month suspended jail sentence for Deltour, with a 1500 euros fine, and a 1000 euro fine for Halet, his suspended sentence was quashed. The journalist Edouard Perrin was again acquitted.

PWC_logoDeltour and Halet revealed to the wider community in 2014 the ‘sweetheart tax deals’ that international accountants Pricewaterhouse Cooper and the Government of Luxembourg were arranging for some 340 transnational corporations. Deltour decided he could no longer work for PwC and when he left he brought out information about the kind of tax-dodging arrangements that were being stitched up between the Luxembourg Finance Ministry and PwC, to reduce to a tiny percentage of profits the corporation taxes being paid. The Finance Minister (and Prime Minister) at the time was Jean Claude Juncker.

The case featured some deeply unpleasant bullying of Raphaël Halet and his wife by PwC and the Luxembourg authorities. Halet was inspired by a television programme in which the journalist Edouard Perrin reported on what Deltour had done. He was only a clerk in the PwC offices but was required to scan and archive all the documents in which the tax deals were recorded. He did not act for any personal gain, he says ‘The real story is about tax evasion and why we are being told our schools and hospitals don’t have enough money’. He emailed documents to Perrin with information on Amazon, Ikea, Apple and a dozen other companies. The resulting stories became known as the Luxleaks scandal.

PwC became suspicious and tracked down Halet. They involved bailiffs and police, who then phoned Halet - in hospital after an accident - and his wife who was at work and told them stories about their house being burgled and their car taken, but when they arrived the authorities were there with senior PwC managers. In two lengthy sessions, first with police and bailiffs present, then with lawyers, Halet and his wife were browbeaten in the early hours into signing an agreement of dismissal and secrecy. They were threatened if they spoke out with damages of ten million euros and repossession of their home, despite having children.

‘This was psychological torture, nothing less,’ said Revd David Haslam, Chair of the Methodist Tax Justice Network, who attended the opening of the appeal in Luxembourg in December. ‘PwC sought to frighten the life out of Halet and his wife. Whistleblowers deserve praise – not punishment. Although the sentences have been softened, they are still being punished for acting in the public interest. We should all know where transnationals do business and what they pay in taxes.They acted out of disgust at the cheating going on. We are inviting Halet to London in Tax Action Week in the first week of April. We want to present him with a Tax Transparency Award for outstanding services for the common good. It is PwC and Juncker who should be fined and jailed. They are the moral criminals’.

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Further information: Revd David Haslam

Full Halet story:

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