LuxLeaks: Whistleblowers like Antoine Deltour should be celebrated

LuxLeaks: Whistleblowers like Antoine Deltour should be celebrated

Whistleblowers play a critical role in uncovering corruption or other malpractice. But too often people who speak up in the public interest face threats, intimidation and lawsuits. Transparency International believes that Antoine Deltour, who revealed secret tax arrangements between the Luxembourg authorities and multinational companies, should not face prosecution.

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Similar to the Panama Papers, Deltour’s disclosures exposed the issue of corporate tax avoidance - a practice where hundreds of billions of dollars of profits vanish from corporation’s home countries or places where they actually operate and therefore are not taxed. The so-called “LuxLeaks” revealed arrangements that benefitted 350 companies.

Deltour is charged with theft, violation of Luxembourg’s professional secrecy laws, violation of trade secrets, and illegally accessing a database. In the upcoming trial starting on 26 April 2016, he faces a 10 year jail sentence and a fine of up to €1,250,000 (US$ 1.4 million).

“Deltour should be protected and commended, not prosecuted. The information he disclosed was in the public interest,” says Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director, Transparency International.

So far, over 100,000 people signed a petition in his support:

Luxembourg is one of few European countries with a dedicated law on whistleblowing, but it is too narrow. Deltour is not considered a whistleblower because the law in Luxembourg is limited to corruption offences and the information he revealed did not show blatant corruption. In addition, the law only protects whistleblowers against dismissal, not against prosecution. An amendment to the law is urgently needed.

To provide a safe alternative to silence and protection for those who speak out, TI urges all countries to enact and strongly enforce comprehensive whistleblowing laws. Governments and companies should support whistleblowers when issues of public interest are brought to light.

To improve protection for whistleblowers across the European Union, Members of the European Parliament have demanded EU-wide legislation. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has praised Deltour’s disclosures which contributed to the development of measures to fight corporate tax avoidance by the Luxembourg government, the European Commission, the OECD, and the G20. Deltour has also been honoured with the European Citizen’s Prize 2015 for his contribution to European cooperation and the promotion of common values.

Show your support for Deltour and whistleblowers, tweet this now!

Disclosures by whistleblowers are one of the most effective ways to address corruption and other malpractice. That is why Transparency International has been providing direct support and legal advice to many of them.

Transparency Ireland, for example, helped two Irish police officers who suffered from retaliation after reporting systematic waivers of traffic offences that cost taxpayers an estimated €1.5 million a year. They were ultimately vindicated.

Transparency International has been advocating and campaigning for better whistleblowing legislation across the world, based on comprehensive guidelines for whistleblower legislation. Some progress has been made, but as Antoine Deltour’s case shows, there is still a long way to go to provide a safe alternative to silence for whistleblowers.

For any press enquiries please contact press@transparency.org

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