LuxLeaks whistleblower Antoine Deltour sentenced to jail

Whistleblower who earned Sakharov Prize for revealing Luxembourg's sweetheart tax deals for multinattionals, given suspended sentence by Luxembourg court

Edouard Perrin, Raphael Halet and Antoine Deltour
Edouard Perrin, Raphael Halet and Antoine Deltour

The Criminal Court of Luxembourg has sentenced the LuxLeaks whistleblower Antoine Deltour to a 12-month jail term, suspended, and a €1,500 fine.

Another whistleblower in the trial, Raphaël Halet, was sentenced to a suspended 9-month jail term and a €1,000 fine. The journalist Edouard Perrin was acquitted.

Prosecutors in Luxembourg called for two whistleblowers on trial over the so-called LuxLeaks scandal to be jailed for 18 months and for a journalist to be fined.

Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet, French former employees of auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), were accused of leaking thousands of documents to journalist Edouard Perrin. The documents revealed the huge tax breaks that Luxembourg offered international firms including Apple, Ikea and Pepsi, saving the companies billions of euros in taxes.

“Deltour and Halet are not really whistleblowers, and Perrin has broken the law,” the deputy state prosecutor told the court as he summed up the prosecution’s case two weeks after the trial began.

The maximum penalty available was a jail sentence of 10 years for the charges against the two whistleblowers, which include stealing documents, revealing business secrets and violation of professional secrets.

The support committee for Deltour said it was outraged by the sentence against the whistleblowers. “This inexplicable and unacceptable sentence ignores the public interest of their action, and overcomes European law. It is an affront to the support received from around the world.”

Antoine Deltour expressed his gratitude to those who supported him during the hard time he went through. “Sentencing the citizens at the origin of LuxLeaks revelations is equivalent to sentencing the regulatory advancements triggered by these revelations and which have been widely acclaimed across Europe. This is also a warning towards future whistleblowers, which is detrimental to citizen’s information and the good functioning of the democracy.”

Antoine Deltour said he did not accept the sentence and that he would appeal against it.

Mogens Blicher Bjerregard, the president of the European Federation of Journalists, said the whistleblowers and journalist Edouard Perrin shouldn’t have been prosecuted at all by the national authorities because they "totally acted in the public interest by revealing secret tax deals having enormous financial impact on public fundings... The European Parliament has been asking repeatedly to the Commission for a European protection for more than 10 years. After this trial and also the heated debate around the adoption of the trade secrets directive, it’s now urgent to work on a directive to protect whistleblowers and concrete proposals are already ready at the European level”.

The documents he leaked, originally used for a 2012 report on French television, exploded on to the world stage in 2014 with the LuxLeaks dump of all 30,000 pages into the public domain. The files showed how Luxembourg granted “sweetheart” deals that saved multinational firms billions in taxes, at a time when Jean-Claude Juncker, now head of the European commission, was prime minister.

In the past two years, the EU pushed through tougher rules on taxation as a result of the LuxLeaks release.

The incident was the biggest exposé of its kind until the publication of the Panama Papers, which revealed links between several international leaders and offshore shell companies that can be used to hide or launder wealth.