The third day of the LuxLeaks trial was devoted to the hearings the last three witnesses called by Antoine’s defense.
Antoine, a dedicated employee
The first witness was Antoine’s head of department at ‘INSEE Lorraine’ between July 2012 and January 2016. According to him, Antoine –despite not being a great computer scientist nor statistician– is a great professional, responsive, conscientious, honest and fair, always looking for the public interest. His annual assessment reports attest of the excellence of his work.
Understanding the rulings
Sven Giegold, a German MEP, is the following witness to be heard. He has been very active in the setting up of the European Parliament TAXE special Committee in 2015. In one of his answers to Antoine’s lawyer, Mr Giegold first explained the nature of the rulings: these documents were originally intended to inform companies about their tax obligations, but they later started to incorporate more “room for manoeuvre” left to the judgment of national tax authorities.
For Mr Giegold, the issue of the legality of the rulings arises in all European countries, as none of them apply a 1977 directive on business taxation information exchange. An additional problem comes from the fact that tax authorities provide tax advantages to some companies.
The impacts of Antoine's action
Mr Giegold confirmed today that the creation of the European Parliament TAXE Committee is a direct consequence of the whistleblowers’ revelations. These revelations were “the trigger of our work” that heavily relied on the released pieces of information. “All political groups in the European Parliament expressed their gratitude to Antoine Deltour. Without this whistleblower, there would be in Europe no changes in practices nor in the law, as secrecy was the basis of the system”. Mr Giegold then came back to the mandatory automatic exchange of data between EU member states administrations, which Luxembourg is supposed to apply since early 2016. The witness then recalled that the European Commission has used LuxLeaks data to initiate proceedings against certain companies. Finally, Mr Giegold stressed that the final report of the TAXE Committee calls for whistleblowers’ protection in Europe, in particular in the context of the fight against tax evasion.
Following a question from Edouard Perrin’s lawyer about journalistic action that triggered changes through breaking secrecy, the state attorney reacted by inviting the court “to stay away from political considerations that are not suited for this place. Let’s keep it to the facts!”
Finally data on taxation
The third witness for Antoine’s defense is Ms Tove Maria Ryding, Tax Justice coordinator at Eurodad, a European network of NGOs. She stressed the utmost importance of the LuxLeaks revelations for her work in analyzing multinationals taxation in Europe.
The trial will resume on Friday, April 29 at 9 am, for a fourth day-half.
- Le Quotidien – Procès LuxLeaks (3e jour) : le procureur ne veut « pas de politique » dans les débats (in French)
- Le Quotidien – LuxLeaks : « Le Luxembourg n’a pas coopéré pleinement » (in French)
- Libération – Luxleaks : «La politique n’a pas sa place dans ce tribunal !» (in French)
- Médiapart – Procès «Luxleaks»: l’audition laborieuse des témoins (in French)
- Luxemburger Wort – Marius Kohl aux abonnés absents (in French)