Court of Cassation LuxLeaks decision highlights need for effective whistleblower protection
Transparency International welcomes today’s decision by the Court of Cassation of Luxembourg to annul the verdict of an earlier appeal in the case of LuxLeaks whistleblower Antoine Deltour.
The appeal verdict of Raphaël Halet, the other LuxLeaks whistleblower, was confirmed.
Transparency International is calling for comprehensive whistleblower protection legislation at the EU and national levels across Europe to ensure that those who reveal wrong-doing are not punished for speaking out.
In 2014, Deltour and Halet helped bring to light secret tax agreements between 340 corporations and the Luxembourg government.
Today the highest court in Luxembourg quashed the Court of Appeal's decision to uphold Deltour’s convictions for theft, fraudulent access to a computer system and laundering acquired data.
The Court of Appeal had previously recognised that the whistleblowers’ revelations were in the public interest and acquitted Deltour of violating professional secrecy and trade secrets. Deltour had been sentenced to a suspended six-month prison sentence and fine of €1,500. His case will now return to the Court of Appeal with clear instructions that his status as a whistleblower will not be questioned.
Halet’s conviction for theft, fraudulent access to a computer system, laundering acquired data and violating professional secrecy had been upheld in appeal. Today the Court of Cassation confirmed this decision, arguing that it was in keeping with case law at the European Court of Human Rights. Halet had been fined €1,000. Halet said he will take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Luxembourg, like most European countries, fails to protect whistleblowers.
"We need comprehensive whistleblower protection laws in all EU countries to ensure that whistleblowers like Deltour and Halet are not prosecuted in the future,” said Patricia Moreira, managing director of Transparency International.
Best practice dictates that whistleblowers should be immune from liability under criminal law.
"The international nature of his case – in which French citizens were convicted in Luxembourg for revealing favourable tax deals for multinational companies – shows that all EU countries should have comprehensive whistleblower protection legislation. It falls on the EU to ensure that those who are brave enough to speak out when they see wrongdoing do not suffer retaliation," added Moreira.
Transparency International is actively campaigning for comprehensive EU-wide whistleblower protection. Individuals must be able to speak out against wrongdoing if corruption is to be tackled.
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