Newsletter #6

As the LuxLeaks trial just ended:
acquittal or shame!

The eight-day Luxleaks trial demonstrated that Antoine only acted in view of the general interest. The court will announce its judgment on June 29th. You are now more than 200,000 people and 300 public personalities to have expressed your support to Antoine. We all look forward to the verdict, hoping to see the victory of public interest!

May 12th, 2016

In this newsletter:

A resounding trial

Three persons were involved in the LuxLeaks trial:

  • Antoine Deltour, who acknowledges having copied numerous tax documents from his former employer PwC

  • Raphaël Halet, the former head of tax rulings archive support team at PwC, remained anonymous until recently.

  • Édouard Perrin (France 2 TV channel, “Cash Investigation” broadcast), who was the first one to use the documents brought forward by the whistleblowers to demonstrate the scale of multinational companies’ tax avoidance schemes.

A symbolic trial

The mere fact of having three people being prosecuted only for denouncing dubious and unethical practices is a demonstration of the need to protect whistleblowers. This protection is even more needed as the vote on the trade secrets directive makes whistleblowers’ situation very uncertain. The trial also showed that it is urgent to find ambitious solutions to stop the tax injustice and current tax dodges!

The French government (finally) shows solidarity

On the opening day of the trial, French Minister Michel Sapin expressed - on behalf of the French government - his solidarity with Antoine. The statement from the minister was welcome by a round of applause in the French National Assembly. But would this demonstration of solidarity materialize if the three accused are convicted?

Crowded room
Rally of supporters

I would also like to express all our solidarity to Antoine Deltour. I asked this morning the Ambassador of France in Luxembourg and the Consulate General to help him if necessary during this difficult time in which he defends the general interest and during which he has nevertheless to stand before a criminal court in Luxembourg.

Michel Sapin
French Finance Minister

The highlights of the trial

Pleading for Antoine’s acquittal

The fight of “David against Goliath” is the image used by Mr. Penning who challenged each of the charges against Antoine. Mr. Bourdon called on the judges to “make an appointment with History” because they will “write an important page for Europe and for European law”. Speaking of the gradual process turning Antoine into a whistleblower, Bourdon said that “at the decisive moment, when meeting Édouard Perrin, Antoine choose the social values”.

Prosecutor and civil party were inflexible

The Prosecutor and the civil party (PwC) put aside all the reasons justifying the leaks, focusing only on facts arbitrarily disconnected from tax evasion issues. The Prosecutor asked for an 18-month jail sentence for both whistleblowers and a fine for each of the three accused. In turn, PwC lawyers asked for their conviction. This was described by Mr. Bourdon as an “archaic conception of the law”.

Antoine and his lawyers

The ruling industry in the spotlight

The hearings have shed light on how multinational corporations avoid taxes. Raphael Halet revealed that the rulings were prepared by PwC and “rubber-stamped” by the Luxembourg tax administration at a large scale. The collusion between the Luxembourg tax authorities and accounting firms has undoubtedly come to light.

High media coverage

Many media covered the opening of the trial, and several others followed the complete trial. Find the articles on The Guardian, Politico, Luxemburger Wort (EN), Deutsche Welle (EN) or Euractiv.

You will write an important page for Europe and for European law. Such is your honor, your opportunity, your privilege.

Mr. William Bourdon
Antoine's lawyer, in his defense speech.

The hearings, day by day

April 26th

The opening of the trial was mainly devoted to the testimony of a PwC’s representative in charge of the internal investigation that has allowed the three accused to be identified. She recognized that the documents copied by Antoine were easily accessible due to a bug in the internal computer network.

Read our detailed report.

April 27th

Antoine’s first defense witnesses were questioned during the second hearing of the trial. However, the most surprising moment was the hearing of the Police investigator who described Antoine as anti-capitalist, due to the fact that he reads the Mediapart online newspaper and received environmentalist newsletters!

Read our detailed report.

April 28th

The third day of the LuxLeaks trial was devoted to the hearings the last three witnesses called by Antoine’s defense. Antoine’s current boss described him as a dedicated employee. MEP and tax experts showed the positive impacts of Antoine’s actions.

Read our detailed report.

April 29th

At the request of Antoine’s lawyer, one of the Directors of the Luxembourg tax authorities was summoned to the court but he remained silent to most of Antoine’s lawyer’s questions. The court also proceeded with the hearing of Raphael Halet. He declared himself as a whistleblower and largely cleared the journalist Perrin.

Read our detailed report.

May 3rd

During his hearing, Antoine repeated once again that copying the documents was not a premeditated act. He gave the documents to the journalist not to point out his former employer nor a specific country, but to contribute to the public benefit. He has no regret, considering the positive impact of the LuxLeaks revelations. Perrin, also questioned on that day, clearly rejected the charges against himself as well as being the sponsor of the leaks.

Read our detailed report.

May 4th

First pleadings: PwC lawyers requested the condemnation of the defendants and one symbolic euro for the compensation of damages (in addition to the criminal fine and legal fees). On the contrary, Halet’s lawyers demanded the acquittal of all the defendants. Perrin’s lawyers reminded that condemning the journalist would compromise the freedom of the press.

Read our detailed report.

May 10th

Following Edouard Perrin’s second lawyer’s pleading, Antoine's lawyers gave the judges an appointment with history, asking them to recognize the primacy of the general interest in Antoine’s action. Conversely, the prosecutor considered Antoine only as a "thief" and he required against him, and against Rapahaël Halet, an 18-month jail sentence and a fine. A fine was also required against the journalist Edouard Perrin.

Read our detailed report.

May 11th

Following the established procedure, the final hearing was devoted to the ‘replies’: civil party and defense spoke for the last time. Antoine made a solemn declaration that he concluded with: “I ask you to judge me not as a criminal but as a whistleblower”. His declaration was followed by a round of applause in the courtroom.

The court will announce its judgment on June 29th.

Read our detailed report.

I ask you to judge me not as a criminal but as a whistleblower.

Antoine Deltour
In his final statement made at the LuxLeaks trial

Together with the accused

Strong mobilization

At the trial opening, over 100 people took advantage of the strong media presence to ask for tax justice and whistleblowers’ protection. NGOs were present, as well as several MEPs, like Fabio De Masi, or Julia Reda who stated: “Currently Deltour is in a situation in which the existing Luxembourg whistleblower protections do not apply because they do not cover disclosure of information to the media”.

Interview de Denis Robert
Mobilisation du comité de soutien

Ongoing support

Several NGOs were present at the opening of the trial: the Platform against tax havens, Anticor, the Luxembourg Solidarity Committee and, of course, Antoine Deltour’s Support Committee. Every day, relatives and members of the support committee and many others took turns in providing moral support to the three accused. Several bus transports were organized from France during the trial. A big thank you to the people of Luxembourg who facilitated the organization of this support!

Antoine’s witnesses

Six witnesses testified in favor of Antoine:

Fabio De Masi
German MEP, Member of TAXE Committee
Tove Maria Ryding
Tax Justice coordinator at Eurodad, a European network of NGOs
Benoît Majerus
Professor at University of Luxembourg
Sven Giegold
German MEP, Member of TAXE Committee
Bertrand K.
Antoine’s Head of department in the French administration between July 2012 and January 2016
Louise F.
Antoine’s partner

Antoine’s lawyers also provided to the Court several written statements from public figures or experts (Pervenche Berès, Jean-Marie Cavada, John Christensen, Yann Galut, Alain Lamassoure, Daniel Lebègue, Richard Murphy, Thomas Piketty, Tove Maria Ryding, Michael Theurer and Carlos Tornero Martin), as well as the prizes awarded to Antoine, our list of public supporters, and the count of the petition, representing at that time almost 190,000 signatures!

Following numerous public and private exchanges with Mr Deltour, I am today convinced that he acted only in view of the general interest and of justice when unveiling some tax arrangements. Some of those were actually ruled as illegal by the European justice under state aid law.

MEP Alain Lamassoure
Former French Minister and Chairman of the TAXE Special Committee of the European Parliament; this committee investigates since February 2015 tax rulings and tax abuse in Europe

Antoine needs your help!

In order to fund Antoine's defense, we still need donations!

We'd like to warmly thank the various people who already contributed to the fundraising…

Donate Now

Donations to the Support Committee are collected via the secured platform HelloAsso.

It is also possible to send a check to the mail address indicated in the footer of this newsletter. The check must be made payable to ‘Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour’.

You can also: :

  • Follow us and share information about supporting Antoine on the facebook page Support Antoine and the twitter account @support_antoine

  • Invite your family and networks to keep informed and sign the pledge via the website

  • Take any initiative to let people know about Antoine’s situation: through the local press, bulletins from associations or activists, speeches during debates or by organizing events… Feel free to contact the Support Committee to let them know about the initiatives or to prepare the actions.

  • Join the Support Commitee (minimum fee: 5€).

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Photo credits: "LuxLeaks trial hearing" © Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour / CC BY-SA 4.0 – "Michel Sapin à l'Assemblée Nationale" Capture d'écran / FranceTV Info – "Antoine et ses avocats" © Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour / CC BY-SA 4.0 – "Journalistes à la sortie du tribunal" © Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour / CC BY-SA 4.0 – "Interview de Denis Robert" Capture d'écran / iTélé – "Mobilisation de soutien" © Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour / CC BY-SA 4.0 – "Fabio De Masi" © DIG/Trialon / Wikimedia Commons – "Tove Maria Ryding" © Tove Maria Ryding / All Rights Reserved – "Benoît Majerus" © Benoît Majerus / All Rights Reserved – "Sven Giegold" © / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0 – "Bertrand K" avatar Bouletmaton / Boulet & Kek – "Louise F" avatar Bouletmaton / Boulet & Kek –