16:32 GMT06 August 2020
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    Politicians and campaign groups are calling for EU-wide whistleblower protection rules in the wake of the sentencing of two people who exposed wide-scale tax evasion by multinationals in Luxembourg - known as the LuxLeaks scandal.

    Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet, were, 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. 

    The European Commission, July 5, published its revised proposal on the Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which includes commitments to greater transparency, by giving public access to beneficial ownership information — a list of who ultimately owns what and where.

    However, according to campaign group Transparency International (TI), public access to beneficial ownership information alone is not enough to prevent money laundering and the flow of illicit assets through complex financial structures.

    Global Financial System Shaken

    In a statement, TI said: "The Commission must also propose EU-wide laws on whistleblower protection. Part of the package the Commission released also made reference to the vital role that whistleblowers play in bringing about transparency in the global financial system.

    "The Panama Papers, which have shaken the global financial system and pushed the EU into action on money laundering and tax transparency, were revealed by a whistleblower. Whistleblowers need to be able to come forward to expose wrong-doing and the Commission recognized this yesterday in its communiqué.

    "The unnecessary sentencing of Antoine Deltour last week proves that in the current climate whistleblowers face punishment for doing the right thing. If the Commission is serious about protecting people who wish to expose wrong-doing, then it cannot delay any longer proposing EU-wide whistleblower protection rules."

    ​This is the first time the Commission has considered, in writing, the possibility of EU-wide whistleblower protection. Following the sentencing of Deltour and Halet, Pervenche Berès, Socialists and Democrats spokesperson for economic and monetary affairs, said:

    "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."

    Related:

    LuxLeaks: Tax and Persecution on the Agenda as Whistleblowers Face Verdict
    LuxLeaks Trial Begins Amid Claims of Whistleblower 'Intimidation'
    Oxfam Accuses EU of Neglecting Tax Dodging Amid New 'LuxLeaks' Revelations
    Tags:
    Panama Papers, taxation, tax evasion, LuxLeaks, European Commission, Transparency International, Antoine Deltour, Panama, Luxembourg
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