Deltour and Halet sentences are a disgrace. Whistle-blowers must get greater protection

Whistleblowers who expose misuse of EU funds must be protected by EU law, #TaxJustice, Inés Ayala Sender, Luxleaks or Panama Paper scandals, Cătălin Sorin Ivan, European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF),

The S&D Group has expressed its solidarity with Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet after both were sentenced for their role in exposing the shady tax deals negotiated between the government of Luxembourg and large multinational companies.

Pervenche Berès, S&D 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. It is therefore vital that individuals acting for the common good are given adequate protection under EU law. As was made clear in the Luxleaks case this is essential if we want to prevent illegal or harmful tax practices. Our group has written to president Juncker demanding action on this as soon as possible.”

Evelyn Regner, S&D spokesperson for legal affairs, said:

“Today’s verdict is contemptuous and shows that we need real action to protect those exposing misconduct, harmful practices or wrongdoing for the public good. They acted in good faith. It was not their intention to harm anyone. Not only do whistle-blowers face punitive legal action but they almost certainly will lose their jobs and face long term unemployment for doing the right thing. They may have to give up on what they have spent their life building: a steady income, good job, normal family life. In the worst cases they might become subject to physical aggression or threats.
"We have urged the Commission in our Parliament’s special tax committee to come up with a clear legal framework on the protection of whistle-blowers before the end of June 2016. Parliament and social partners have expressed the need for an EU-wide protection of whistle-blowers and shown the possible legal basis for this. They have done their job. Now, the ball is in Commission´s court. The Commission must finally act. We want to see in the legal framework a guarantee that those exposing illegal, immoral, improper or unethical activities are protected from retaliation or prosecution. We are calling on the Commission to treat this as a matter of urgency and put forward new proposals without delay.”

Peter Simon, S&D spokesperson for the Parliament’s special tax committee, said:

“This judgment is a scandal. The fact our committee was set up to investigate illegal and immoral tax practices was a direct consequence of the heroic actions of Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet. Both men acted for the public good, not to seek the limelight or personal gain and now they are facing prison sentences as a reward for their bravery. For a democracy to work it is clear that we need transparency, if we continue to treat whistle-blowers as criminals then we will never be able to provide that.”