The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today condemned the Luxembourg authorities for accusing the French journalist, Édouard Perrin, of disclosing confidential information of the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) about custom made tax deals for multinational corporations known as LuxLeaks.
According to the indictment issued by the investigating judge, on 23 April, Perrin was charged for being a “co-author, if not an accomplice, in infractions committed by one of PwC’s former employees”.
Ricardo Gutierrez, the EFJ General Secretary said, “It is shameful that the Luxembourg authorities are going after a journalist who has acted entirely in the public interest to publish the information. The authorities must drop the charges against Perrin immediately.”
The EFJ together with its member in Luxembourg, ALJ (Association Luxembourgeoise des Journalistes), has written to the European Commission President, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker from Luxembourg and called on him and the First Vice-President, Mr. Frans Timmermans to ensure that Luxembourg respects the European Union law on freedom of expression and information.
Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the EFJ President said, “The public interest arguments in the LuxLeaks case are compelling. The public has a right to know that the government is giving a small, privileged group of multinational corporations favourable tax rates when normal citizens and small companies are paying their fair share of the tax bill.”
Hundreds of documents leaked from inside PwC’s Luxembourg office formed the basis of a 2012 report by Perrin. Two years later, in November 2014, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published a series of leaked documents revealing that large corporations including PepsiCo, AIG and Deutsche Bank, secured deals from Luxembourg to slash their tax bills.
The judge decision comes after two former employees of PwC were charged with theft, breaching professional confidentiality and fraudulent access to data systems, in December 2014 and January 2015.
Following the LuxLeaks disclosures last year, the European Union introduced rules to tighten tax rules. The European Parliament has also set up a special committee on tax ruling aiming to tackle tax avoidance.
The EFJ has also warned that the persecution against whistle-blowers who report or disclose information on threats or harm to the public interest would have serious impact on investigative journalism. It has recalled the Council of Europe (CoE) Recommendation on the Protection of Whistle-blowers on 30 April 2014 which called on member states of CoE to provide legal protection for whistle-blowers who were acted in the public interest.
Read our alert on the CoE online platform to promote the protection of journalism.