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LuxLeaks whistleblowers get reduced sentences on appeal

AFP file | LuxLeaks whistleblowers Raphael Halet (left) and Antoine Deltour.

A Luxembourg court on Wednesday gave reduced sentences to two "Luxleaks" whistleblowers convicted of leaking thousands of documents that revealed tax breaks for multinational firms.

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Former PricewaterhouseCoopers employee Antoine Deltour, 31, received a six-month suspended sentence with a €1,500 fine instead of a 12-month jail term.

His colleague Raphael Halet, 40, received a €1,000 fine instead of a nine-month prison sentence.

Both were ordered to pay a symbolic sum of €1 each to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Investigative reporter Edouard Perrin, who used the thousands of pages of documents to produce two reports for French public television in 2012 and 2013, had his acquittal at the earlier trial confirmed.

The LuxLeaks scandal sparked a major global push against generous deals handed to multinationals that grew even stronger after the Panama Papers revelations last year. The blockbuster leak revealed the huge tax breaks that tiny EU nation Luxembourg offered international firms including Apple, IKEA and Pepsi, at a time when Jean-Claude Juncker, now head of the European Commission, was prime minister.

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

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

Deltour and Halet had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years on charges that included stealing documents, revealing business secrets and the violation of professional secrets.

In a June ruling, Judge Marc Thill recognised the defendants' "undeniable contribution […] to greater transparency" on tax matters.

But the two Frenchmen were still found guilty, angering activists who had launched petitions and raised money for legal fees.

"The original sentences of Mr. Deltour and Mr. Halet were a total disgrace, and we want this injustice to stop," said Tove Ryding, a tax justice coordinator at the European Network on Debt and Development, at the time.

"You shouldn't have to go to court for exposing the fact that multinational corporations are dodging taxes," she added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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