LuxLeaks whistleblower 'shocked' by tax breaks

29th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

A whistleblower who helped expose the LuxLeaks scandal told a court Friday he had decided to do his duty as a citizen after he was "shocked" by Luxembourg's huge tax breaks for multinational firms.

Raphael Halet, one of three people on trial over the theft of thousands of documents from accounting firm PwC, retracted an earlier statement that he was asked for documents by a journalist.

Instead the 40-year-old Frenchman told the court in Luxembourg that had taken the decision by himself to carry out his "duty to alert" the tax practices in the tiny EU state as a "citizen".

"After a while, I now take responsibility for my actions," said Halet, who appeared tired after repeated questioning.

He said he decided to act after seeing a report by French journalist Edouard Perrin on state-owned France 2 television in 2012, which it later turned out was based on leaks by another PwC employee, Antoine Deltour.

"After the report, I was able to better understand the content of the documents that we saw passing (at PwC). These were practices that shocked me."

Deltour and Halet are both accused of stealing documents from the database of the firm, revealing business secrets, violation of professional secrets and money laundering.

Perrin is charged with acting as an accomplice in those crimes.

All three face up to 10 years in jail if convicted.

The LuxLeaks of around 30,000 pages of documents from PwC exploded onto the world stage in November 2014, exposing "sweetheart" deals that saved firms including Apple, IKEA and Pepsi billions of dollars in taxes.

They were particularly controversial as the deals were made when Jean-Claude Juncker, now the president of the European Commission, was prime minister of Luxembourg.

LuxLeaks was the biggest expose of its kind until this month's publication of the Panama Papers, which revealed links between a number of international leaders and offshore shell companies that can be used to hide or launder wealth.

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© 2016 AFP

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