LuxLeaks Trial:
New Appeal Hearing

A whistleblower on trial

This Tuesday, March 27 was the final hearing of the LuxLeaks trial, before a newly constituted Court of Appeal. This hearing followed the decision of the Court of Cassation on January 11 to overturn the previous Court of Appeal’s judgment, which had sentenced Antoine to a 6-month suspended jail time and a € 1,500 fine.

The challenge of today’s hearing is to take into account the full recognition of the whistleblower status notified by the Court of Cassation, while dealing with the case of the training documents copied by Antoine when he left PriceWatehouseCoopers (PwC) in 2010.

Antoine answering to journalists, after the hearing, between Mr. Philippe Penning and Mr. William Bourdon.
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

The Prosecutor sets the scene

The hearing began with prosecutor John Petry. The latter summarises the Court of Cassation’s decision, emphasising that there is no longer any need to rule on the facts relating to LuxLeaks (disclosure of tax rulings), for which Antoine is protected by the whistleblower status recognised by Luxembourg’s highest court. John Petry seems, however, to regret this decision, describing it as “very generous”, and insists at length on the fact that only the a posteriori publication of the tax rulings makes it possible to justify their theft…

The copy of the training documents is the only action to be judged. Antoine copied them when he left PwC, at the same time as the tax rulings. The prosecutor recommends a reduction of the March 2017 appeal sentence (a 6-month suspended jail time and a € 1,500 fine), reduced to a simple fine. He also suggests, almost facetiously, to reduce the symbolic euro of damages for the civil party to 50 symbolic cents!

Plaintiff’s arguments

Then comes Mr. Hansen, representing the PwC civil party. Without concessions, Mr. Hansen seeks to demonstrate that the copy of documents constitutes a real steal of the company’s know-how. He details the case of 7 training documents Antoine would have accessed during his last navigation on the PwC server. According to the plaintiff, Antoine wanted to share these documents with competitors! Clearly stung by Antoine’s reaction to the cassation judgment, he recalls that the offence should not be taken lightly.

Antoine standing in the court room, chatting with Mr. William Bourdon.
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

Antoine’s defense

Antoine briefly took the floor, recalling in particular that “the Court of Cassation’s judgment is the consecration of a fight carried out for several years, of which [he is] very proud”.

Antoine’s speech is followed by the one of his first lawyer, Mr. William Bourdon, whom the President of the Court of Appeal interrupted and invited to be concise. Bourdon recalls that Antoine was already in a position to blow the whistle when he copied the documents, and that the Court of Cassation’s decision cannot be reduced to a simple retroactive law mechanism. Bourdon incisively underlines the “indecency” of the prosecution’s obstinacy, whom he describes as “bad losers, who try to reach a conviction at all costs”. He invites the Court to take a historic decision, and concludes by congratulating Antoine, who “has remained the same since the first day: simple, honest, modest, impeccable”.

Mr. Philippe Penning, Antoine’s Luxembourg lawyer, then takes the stand. He notes that only 1 of the 7 training documents previously described by the plaintiff as having been copied by Antoine was present on his harddrive. Moreover, the number of pages copied presented by PwC does not correspond to reality. Penning then recalls - backed by several studies! - that copying training documents when leaving a company is a very common practice. In order not to harm Antoine’s career, the defense requested the non-registration of the judgment in Antoine’s criminal record.

PwC’s lawyers reply in Luxemburgish (or German?), thus preventing Antoine from understanding and thus from participating in the debate.

A group of supporters holding a banner, in the rain, in front of the courthouse
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

Judgment on May 15

The President of the Court of Appeal announces that he defers decision of the verdict. The judgment will be delivered on May 15, 2018.

This final hearing marks the end of the LuxLeaks trial in Luxembourg. Antoine steps out of the courthouse, always accompanied by about thirty members of his Support Committee, who continuously accompanied him until the end of this judicial marathon. Thanks to them! Thank you all!

A few supporters, holding banner and signs, in the courtyard
© Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour – CC BY-SA 4.0

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