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    Protesters demonstrate in support of whistleblower, asking for more transparency, in front of the court before the start of the LuxLeaks trial in Luxembourg, April 26, 2016.

    MEPs at Loggerheads Over LuxLeaks Verdicts and Whistleblower Rights

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    Members of the European Parliament have condemned the sentences handed out to two whistleblowers who helped expose the LuxLeaks affair, which blew the lid on aggressive tax practices used by hundreds of firms via Luxembourg.

    Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet, were on June 29, found guilty of stealing documents, revealing business secrets and violating trade secrets. Deltour was handed a 12 month suspended sentence, while Halet was given a nine month suspended sentence. They also received suspended fines of US$1667 and US$1111 respectively. Edouard Perrin, the journalist who shed light on the affair, was acquitted.

    ​(Tweet: Antoine Deltour sentenced for 12 months with fine of 1500 euros. Poor justice!)

    Pervenche Beres, Socialists and Democrats spokesperson for economic and monetary affairs, said:

    "It is a disgrace that this case has ever come to court; there is something fundamentally wrong with the legal system when those who expose wrong doing face trial while the perpetrators continue their lives as before. Our group would like to express our utmost solidarity with Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet.

    "People who expose illegal activity, government or employer misconduct should be celebrated not prosecuted. They help to ensure that even the rich and powerful can be held to account for any wrongdoing. In doing so, they often put their own careers, personal freedom and entire future at risk."

    Trade Secrets

    The case highlights the controversy over the implementation of the EU Trade Secrets Directive which is intended to harmonize EU laws on industrial espionage, including the unlawful use of misappropriated trade secrets and the removal from the market of goods that have been manufactured on the basis of a trade secret that has been illegally acquired. 

    However, civil rights group believe the directive may be used to prevent journalists from uncovering unscrupulous practices in European companies — a staple diet of investigative reporting. 

    It is also feared that it could lead to companies taking legal action against whistle blowers and journalists themselves.

    The main issue lies in the definition of "trade secrets." Critics say the proposed definition is extremely broad and could be used to sue anyone who "unlawfully acquires, uses or discloses" secret business information.

    Trade unions say this could hit whistleblowers who wish to disclose information that is in the public interest as well as journalists using that information, as in the case of Deltour and Halet.

    Related:

    LuxLeaks: Tax and Persecution on the Agenda as Whistleblowers Face Verdict
    LuxLeaks Trial Begins Amid Claims of Whistleblower 'Intimidation'
    LuxLeaks, Panama Papers and EU Hypocrisy: Piketty Slams Brussels Over Tax
    Row Breaks Out Over LuxLeaks Political Cover-Up
    Tags:
    tax avoidance, whistleblower, tax haven, tax evasion, Criminal Court of Luxembourg, Antoine Deltour, Europe, Panama, Luxembourg
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