BERLIN, June 29, 2016. Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet, the two whistleblowers who revealed secret tax agreements between the Luxembourg authorities and multinational corporations, have been found guilty.
Deltour received a 12-month suspended sentence and fined €1,500, and Halet a nine-month suspended sentence and a €1,000 fine.
Commenting on the decision Transparency International (TI) said it believes Deltour and Halet acted in the public interest and had asked PwC in Luxembourg to withdraw its complaint prior to the two men’s prosecution.
TI managing director Cobus de Swardt said: “This ruling raises serious doubts whether Luxembourg’s law protects whistleblowers. We will increase our advocacy efforts in this regard.”
The anti-corruption organization said whistleblower protection has been demanded by the OECD, the Council of Europe and the European Commission – who’s current president Jean-Claude Juncker is a former prime minister and finance minister of Luxembourg.
“While some progress has been made, most European countries fail to protect whistleblowers. This hurts the fight against corruption as they play a critical role in exposing wrongdoing,” added Anne Koch, regional director at Transparency International. “We urge all countries to enact and strongly enforce comprehensive whistleblowing laws based on prevailing international standards.”
In April this year the EU’s 28 finance ministers agreed that Member States would require multinational corporations operating in Europe to report their earnings and taxes on a country-by-country basis in a bid to curb profit shifting and corporate tax avoidance. The Commission estimates that Europe’s governments lose €70 billion to corporate tax avoidance each year.
The new rules are expected to come into force in 2017.