Luxembourg: #LuxLeaks Whistleblowers Found Guilty, Journalist Acquitted

Published: 30 June 2016

Antoine Deltour

Antoine Deltour and his lawyers (Photo: Creative Commons, Ato Grosso)

By Daniela Castro and Joshua Futtersak

After a two-month trial, the two whistleblowers of the LuxLeak case have been convicted, while the journalist involved was acquitted of all charges.

Former PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) employees Antoine Deltour, 31, and Raphael Halet, 40, were found guilty of leaking a 30,000-page document to French journalist Edouard Perrin. The case has been dubbed “LuxLeaks,” and has garnered international attention.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is one of the world's largest auditing firms, headquartered in London, United Kingdom. 

The documents revealed that Luxemburg offered tax breaks to 340 companies, including some of the world's largest multinational organizations, including Apple, IKEA, and Pepsi. 

The leak is considered the “biggest exposé of corporate tax deals” until the publication of the Panama Papers in April. 

The leaked documents were originally used for a 2012 report on French public television, France2, in collaboration with the BBC's Panorama and Private Eye magazine.

In November 2014, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published the leaks, which went on to receive massive international attention

Deltour and Halet were convicted on charges including theft, violation of professional secrets, business secrecy and computer fraud.

Deltour received a 12-month suspended sentence and a suspended fine of  € 1,500 (US$ 1,666), while Halet received a nine-month suspended sentence and a suspended fine of € 1,000 (US$ 1,110). 

While Luxembourg has laws protecting whistleblowers, they are confined to exposing illegal practices, according to the BBC

Perrin was acquitted of all charges but the case sets a precedent on what could happen to both journalists and whistleblowers for uncovering wrongdoing when the information is considered of “public interest.”

During the trial, Deltour spoke with Transparency International about what was currently at stake. 

“A condemnation would dissuade other whistleblowers, which would be detrimental to the public and to the good functioning of democracies,” Deltour said.

After the convictions, ICIJ director Gerard Ryle came forward to express his dissapointment with the conviction. 

“This is a trial that should not have happened in the first place. Antoine, Raphael and Edouard should all have been applauded and thanked for their roles in bringing the issue of corporate tax avoidance to the public’s attention, not dragged through the courts and punished,” Ryle said.

The former employees have 40 days to appeal the verdict, according to AFP. Both Detour and Halet are reportedly set to appeal the decision.