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LuxLeaks whistleblowers to hear appeal decision

A court will rule Wednesday on the appeal of two “LuxLeaks” whistleblowers convicted of leaking thousands of documents that revealed Luxembourg’s huge tax breaks for major multinationals.

Former PricewaterhouseCoopers employees Antoine Deltour, 31, and Raphael Halet, 40, last June received 12-month and nine-month sentences respectively for the blockbuster leak that sparked a major global push against generous deals handed to international companies.

Accused of stealing documents and revealing business secrets, they face up to five years in prison but hope to obtain an acquittal.

Investigative reporter Edouard Perrin, who used the thousands of pages of documents to produce two reports for French public television in 2012 and 2013, was acquitted of all charges in June.

However, his name was added to the appeal after prosecutors argued his case was tightly linked to the others.

During a hearing at Luxembourg’s Court of Appeal in December prosecutors recommended that Deltour — considered to be the principal actor in the leak — get just six months and that Halet receive only a fine.

They argued that Perrin should be acquitted once again.

The defendants, who told AFP they would attend the appeal hearing, will be counting on public and political support for the protection of whistleblowers.

Several NGOs demonstrated at the opening of appeal proceedings and Green MEPs have also called for a change in EU regulations to protect whistleblowers in the workplace.

Despite the earlier France 2 reports, the LuxLeaks scandal really erupted in 2014 when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published more than 500 tax rulings on its website linking Luxembourg to more than 350 international firms.

The documents revealed the huge tax breaks the tiny EU nation had offered to companies including Apple, IKEA and Pepsi.

The case drew worldwide attention and put huge pressure on Jean-Claude Juncker — who was Luxembourg’s prime minister at the time of the tax rulings — during his first weeks as head of the European Commission, the powerful executive arm of the 28-nation European Union.

The revelations prompted the EU to take urgent steps to stop global firms avoiding tax in Europe, including anti-trust inquiries into firms such as Apple, McDonald’s and Amazon.

The scandal also pressured Luxembourg into accepting a new law that requires EU member states to share tax deal information with its bloc partners.