Deltour’s case promises to shine the spotlight on the tiny, central European country, burnishing Luxembourg’s reputation as a tax haven for multinationals. The PwC tax leaks involved about 28,000 companies including international giants like Disney, and PepsiCo.
Luxembourg prosecutors are expected to argue that the company tax practices were legal and that the three Frenchmen in the court dock – Deltour, a second ex-PwC employee Raphael Halet, and journalist Edouard Perrin – are the real criminals.
The ‘LuxLeaks’ are one of the biggest financial leaks in history, pre-dating the ‘Panama Papers’ and causing shockwaves when the data was released on a French television programme in 2012 and later obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
In the four years since 2012, authorities have reviewed more than 1,000 individual tax rulings: “Nearly 600 of them came from the LuxLeaks files,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told the European Parliament’s Taxe 2 committee during an appearance in early April.
Deltour, speaking to his supporters in March, said the accused were assisting in the fight against “unfair tax practices”. Deltour is expected to face as long as five years in prison if convicted.
Transparency International has called for Deltour to be protected, not prosecuted, saying the information disclosed was in the public interest.
The leaks have already had an impact in financial circles. In December 2015, the Luxembourg Ministry of Finance released proposals relating to tax transparency and advance rulings in what appeared to be a strategic attempt to advertise Luxembourg’s willingness to fight tax evasion.
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