TWO former PwC employees at the centre of the so called ‘Luxleaks’ tax scandal have been found guilty and handed suspended sentences.
Antoine Deltour, a former auditor for the Big Four firm and ex-employee Raphael Halet received 12 and nine-month suspended sentences, respectively, for leaking documents that exposed tax deals struck between Luxembourg and some of the world’s biggest companies, including Apple, Ikea and Pepsi.
French journalist Edouard Perrin, who first reported on the leaks and was accused of being an accomplice, was acquitted of all charges.
The former Big Four employees also received suspended fines of €1,500 (£1,250) and €1,000. Both have 40 days to appeal the verdict. Ex-auditor Deltour told Agence France-Presse that he is intending to fight the decision.
In April, the trial against the two men began, and both were accused of theft, revealing business secrets, violation of professional secrets and money laundering.
PwC Luxembourg gave a statement on the court’s decision and said it “stands by the advice it provided to its clients, all of which was given in accordance with applicable local and international tax laws”, adding that it “acknowledges the decision of the Court and will analyse it within the coming days”.
In November 2014 a cache of almost 28,000 documents describing tax deals struck with Luxembourg revealed that the tiny EU state was facilitating more than 1,000 multinationals in tax avoidance activities, all of which are entirely legal. The leaked documents primarily relate to clients of PwC.
Weeks after the documents came to light, the Public Accounts Committee accused pharmaceutical company Shire and PwC of “scamming the British people” over the company’s business structure.
The documents revealed that a Luxembourg unit of Shire received more than $1.9bn (£1.2bn) in interest income from subsidiaries between 2009 and 2014, paying corporation tax of less than $2m over four of the years despite minimal overheads.
In 2015, the PAC claimed that the Big Four firm was at the centre of ‘industrial scale’ tax avoidance, as former chair Margaret Hodge urged the government to take a “more active role in the industry, as it evidently cannot be trusted to regulate itself”.
The scandal was considered by many to be the biggest data leak in history; until this year 11.5 million leaked documents from Panamanian offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca uncovered a shadowy network of global tax havens of the rich and powerful.
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