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25 Apr 2016 12:44pm

Lux-leaks scandal: Former PwC employees face trial in Luxembourg

Two former employers of PwC Luxembourg will face trial on Tuesday in relation to the Lux-leaks scandal

Frenchman Antoine Deltour is due to face criminal trial under the charges of theft, violating the Grand Duchy’s secrecy laws and illegally accessing a database. Another former PwC employee, who has not yet been named, faces similar charges.

The Big Four firm filled a complaint against its former employees in 2012.

The scandal erupted in 2014 when a joint investigation by the Guardian and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), leaked 28,000 documents detailing Luxembourg’s rubber-stamping of tax avoidance schemes.

The exposed papers found more than 1,000 businesses had tax avoidance schemes approved by Luxembourg’s government, many with paperwork prepared by PwC.

Edouard Perrin, the first journalist to publish reports related to the PwC papers, will also face trial.

The journalist is being charged with complicity in the violation of professional secrecy laws and possession and dissemination of confidential papers.

A PwC spokesperson said, “Following the discovery of breaches of confidentiality they were reported to the relevant authorities who decided to prosecute the two former PwC employees who took the documents and the journalist involved.

“PwC takes client confidentiality very seriously and regrets that these breaches occurred. PwC Luxembourg conducted a thorough review of its security systems and processes in 2012 and has taken steps to further reinforce its security measures to protect the confidentiality of its client information.

“Given this matter is now the subject of a criminal trial it would not be appropriate for us to comment further.”

Cobus de Swardt, managing director at Transparency International, said last week, “Deltour should be protected and commended, not prosecuted. The information he disclosed was in the public interest.”

Transparency International said Deltour could face a 10 year jail sentence and a fine of up to €1,250,000 (£970,000) in the trial due to start on Tuesday.

A petition in Deltour’s support has been signed by over 122,00 people.

Last month, Deltour posted a message to his supporters on Facebook, in which he said, “Those who revealed these practices face jail and a fine that exceeds a lifelong income”.

He added, “I am well aware that the trial I’m facing in Luxembourg is far beyond myself, my former employer, or even Luxembourg.

“Tax rulings practices that I contributed to bring to light represent only a fragment of the opaque, systematic, and aggressive tax planning strategies implemented by numerous multinational companies.”

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the president of the European Federation of Journalists, said, “The public has a right to know that the government is giving a small, privileged group of multinational corporations favourable tax rates when normal citizens and small companies are paying their fair share of the tax bill.”

Jessica Fino

 

 

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