The verdict in a trial that has focused Europe’s attention on secret tax deals and the protection of whistleblowers will be handed down on March 15, a court in Luxembourg announced on Monday.
The appeal of the LuxLeaks case, centering on two former Luxembourg employees of accountancy giant PricewaterHouseCoopers (PwC) who shared secret tax documents with French journalist, Edouard Perrin, began in December.
ICIJ, in partnership with Perrin and a team of journalists from 30 countries, published the LuxLeaks investigation in November 2014. As part of its reporting, ICIJ and its partners released more than 500 secret tax agreements signed between Luxembourg and some of the world’s largest multinational corporations, including IKEA, Pepsi and Deutsche Bank, that allowed many of them to pay little or no tax. The LuxLeaks revelations produced public and political outcry, threatened to end the political career of the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and pushed European nations to close tax loopholes.
Lawyers for Antoine Deltour, one of the former employees who downloaded tens of thousands of pages of internal documents from PwC and shared hundreds of Advanced Tax Agreements (ATAs) with Perrin, appealed his 12-month suspended sentence and called for Deltour’s acquittal. Raphael Halet, another former employee who shared 16 more documents with Perrin, also appealed his sentence.
During the second trial, Luxembourg authorities called for reduced penalties against the whistleblowers – six months suspended sentence for Deltour and a fine for Halet. Luxembourg’s prosecutor acknowledged that Deltour and Halet may be classified as whistleblowers but insisted that the former employees be nonetheless punished.
While Luxembourg appealed the initial decision to acquit journalist Edouard Perrin, Luxembourg’s prosecutor told the court during the hearing that he “regretted” the appeal and again asked the court to completely acquit Perrin, the first reporter to reveal the secret tax deals.
The appeal, which began on December 12, has seen hundreds of chanting, banner-waving protestors rally outside the court, including members of the European Parliament.
If you don’t acquit Deltour, perorated William Bourdon, Deltour’s lawyer, “how will you sleep?”
ICIJ and press freedom advocates have repeatedly called on Luxembourg to drop all charges against the trio.
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