The LuxLeaks whistleblower is in big trouble
What is LuxLeaks?
LuxLeaks is the disclosure of hundreds of tax agreements that have been arranged by Luxembourg tax authorities on behalf of dozens of multinational companies. Hundreds of billions of euros have disappeared from the countries in which these companies actually run their operations. Indeed, huge sums of money have been transferred over to countries under whose jurisdiction these companies receive enormous tax breaks, notably Luxemburg.
In the past few months, some forty-odd international media companies, all of which are members of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), have conducted an investigation on the recently-disclosed documents. The magnitude of this aggressive fiscal planning, only now brought to light, had remained a hidden secret for years. These tax evasion schemes have never been so precisely delineated as they are now.
What are the consequences?
These schemes have provoked indignant reactions all over the world. Among the chief political consequences is the pressure now put on Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Community (EC), who had taken office only a few days before the documents were made public. Indeed he was Prime Minister of Luxemburg from 1995 to 2013 and Secretary of The Treasury from 1989 to 2009.
Consequently, JCJ has been urged to propose a plan for a European mandate calling for the automatic exchange of tax rulings, the latter of which falls under the authority of Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic Affairs. It is already a big step forward from April of this year when Luxemburg refused to provide the documents required by the EC for their formal investigation. Moreover, new legislation and regulation should become effective in Luxembourg in 2015. They would envisage these rulings to be published anonymously.
Furthermore, many European political leaders are calling for a revival of fiscal harmonization within the European Community, mainly through the proposed mandate for a consolidated common tax base regarding corporate taxes (ACCIS).
Jean Claude Juncker has also been advised to bring the rulings issue to the worldwide governing authorities. To this effect, some of the most powerful countries in the world have put in a word on the recent fiscal schemes in the G20 Brisbane Summit press release this past November. The political context and media coverage has never before been so favorable for an immediate adoption of the recommendations made by the OCDE against the erosion of revenue bases and the transfer of profits (BEPS).
In short, LuxLeaks has “dropped the bomb”.
A whistleblower in trouble
In the meantime, one of the individuals without whom all this would not have taken place is on trial in Luxembourg. ‘Lux’ refers to the Luxembourg tax authorities and ‘leaks’ refers to the leaking of information to the public – think Wikileaks! So, at first, there was a whistleblower. It was Antoine Deltour who made copies of part of the LuxLeaks documents.
Antoine Deltour acted in a completely disinterested manner, without any malicious intent. His goal was never to make money out of the information he found. He only wanted to encourage a public debate on ethically reprehensible practices. His civic act falls within a wide movement driven by many citizens, small business owners, other whistleblowers, trade unions, NGOs, journalists, political parties and even international organizations, all of them determined to act against the lack of transparency in offshore finance and in favor of more social justice.
Having resigned from the auditing firm where he was employed, Antoine wanted to leverage his professional experience and copied some training documents. He then came across the tax rulings among the electronic records of his employer. Appalled by their content, he copied them as well. For several months he kept the fiscal agreements until he was contacted by a journalist. Antoine had then entrusted him with the documents in question, which were used for several television programs. While he had never been directly in contact with the ICIJ, Antoine is very pleased with the consequences of the consortium’s work, in agreement, for the most part, with his original convictions. He only finds it unfair that only a few of these companies would be pointed at, whereas tax ruling is a widespread practice, even in countries besides Luxembourg.
Today Antoine is on trial in Luxembourg. He may go to prison and may have to face a very high fine. He needs your support! Each signature on the petition may mean one less day in prison! We thank you in advance for signing and we urge you to invite your friends to do so as well.