S&D group demand better protection for whistleblowers

Speaking ahead of the LuxLeaks appeal trial due to continue on the 4th of January 2017, MEPs of the Socialist and Democrat group have called on the European Commission to take action and ensure whistleblowers are protected across the EU.

S&D MEP Virginie Rozière, who will be present at the trial in Luxembourg and will be co-rapporteur for the Parliament’s report on whistleblowers, said:

“This trial is a new hardship for Antoine Deltour, Raphaël Halet and Edouard Perrin. It is a disgrace that they faced trial in the first place and we hope their sentences will be fully rescinded at this appeal. I want to underline their tenacity, ethical sense and strength and to repeat my complete support for them.

Adding:

“This trial shows why we need real protections for whistleblowers in Europe. We at the European Parliament will continue to push the European Commission on this to ensure those acting to expose the shady dealings of the global elites are protected from retribution.”

The S&D spokesperson for legal affairs, Evelyn Regner MEP, also commented:

“We need to go beyond nice words in support of whistleblowers and ensure that they are given clear legal protections. As we have seen with LuxLeaks, the Panama Papers, or Bahama Leaks, the tax dealings of multinational companies and the global elite are at the best immoral and at the worst illegal. We are only aware of the scale of this problem because of the bravery of people like Antoine Deltour, Raphaël Halet and Edouard Perrin. It cannot be right that they face trial, while those implicated in the scandals get off scot-free.”

The second trial held in Luxembourg began last week after the defendants and the Luxembourg prosecutor both appealed the court’s ruling in June against two former PricewaterhouseCoopers employees who provided documents later used by investigative journalists to reveal controversial tax schemes.

The trial against the two “LuxLeaks” whistleblowers and a journalist who divulged thousands of pages of secretive tax deals is expected to extend into 2017.

In addition to monetary penalties, former accountants Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet were handed 12 and nine-month suspended jail sentences, respectively. Edouard Perrin, the investigative journalist who first exposed what became known as the Luxembourg Leaks, was acquitted, but remains involved in the appeal as prosecutors claimed his case was tightly linked to the whistleblowers.

Luxembourg, whose secretive “sweetheart” tax deals allowed some multinational companies to reduce taxable income in the Duchy to less than one per cent, continues to insist that the former PwC employees stole confidential information.

PwC, which is seeking a symbolic one euro penalty, insists that it was the victim of theft. In court, Deltour’s lawyers denied that PwC had suffered damage as a result of the leak and argued that the 31-year-old former employee acted in good faith in copying and sharing documents with journalist Perrin.

“By acquitting Antoine Deltour, you will become the honor of the Luxembourg justice system, the honor of European justice,” Deltour’s lawyer, William Bourdon, told the Luxembourg judge hearing the appeal.

The trial is set to resume on January 4.