Prosecutors yesterday (19 December) recommended reduced sentences for two whistleblowers in the LuxLeaks tax scandal during closing arguments at an appeal trial in Luxembourg.
The court was asked to hand down a six-month prison sentence to former PricewaterhouseCoopers employee Antoine Deltour, instead of the 12 months handed down in June, and to only fine his colleague, Raphael Halët, instead of a nine-month sentence.
The two men, along with an investigative reporter, were back in the dock for leaking thousands of documents that exposed Luxembourg’s huge tax breaks for major international companies.
As in June, journalist Edouard Perrin was acquitted of all charges. He was only added to the appeal after the prosecutor argued that his case was tightly linked to the others.
The LuxLeaks scandal erupted in 2014 and sparked a major global push against generous deals handed to multinationals, which grew even stronger with new revelations such as Panama Papers and Football Leaks.
The blockbuster leak revealed the huge tax breaks that tiny EU nation Luxembourg offered international firms including Apple, IKEA and Pepsi, at a time when Jean-Claude Juncker, now president of the European Commission, was prime minister.
The revelations ended up prompting the EU to take urgent steps to stop global firms avoiding tax in Europe, including anti-trust inquiries into firms like Apple, McDonald’s and Amazon.
The scandal also pressured Luxembourg into accepting a new law that requires EU member states to share tax deal information with its bloc partners.
Deltour and Halet had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years on charges which included stealing documents, revealing business secrets and violation of professional secrets.
The documents were originally used for a 2012 report by reporter Perrin on French public television but really exploded onto the world stage two years later with the huge LuxLeaks release of all 30,000 pages into the public domain.