The PWC employee behind LuxLeaks should not be charged

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The following letter, to which I am a signatory, is in the Guardian this morning. I am not sure I need to add to what it says, but if there was to be justice this Christmas this would be one the cases where it would change the course of events:

We deplore the decision by Luxembourg to bring criminal charges against someone they believe to be the whistleblower responsible for passing to the media confidential rulings awarded by the Luxembourg tax authorities (Report, 20 December). We believe these disclosures were manifestly in the public interest, helping to expose the industrial scale on which Luxembourg has sanctioned aggressive tax-avoidance schemes, draining huge sums from public coffers beyond its borders.

The so-called LuxLeaks papers have already forced senior Luxembourg politicians, past and present, to admit there is an urgent need to reform the way multinationals are taxed. The revelations have also transformed the international tax debate, prompting the finance ministers of France, Germany and Italy to write to the European commission calling for urgent action. In their words: “It is obvious that a turning point has been reached in the discussion on unfair tax competition ... Since certain tax practices of countries and taxpayers have become public recently, the limits of permissible tax competition between member states have shifted. This development is irreversible.”

We believe this development is in large part thanks to the brave, public-spirited actions of an individual who ensured the contents of confidential tax rulings granted in Luxembourg became public. In contrast to his actions, Luxembourg has shown itself reluctant — up to this week — to disclose, even to the European commission, the criteria by which it offered businesses confidential tax rulings. Officials at the commission are tasked with ensuring such rulings do not constitute illegal state aid, and are already investigating whether Luxembourg rulings separately granted to subsidiaries of Amazon and Fiat violate state-aid laws.

Until last Thursday, Luxembourg had been firmly resisting what it told the European court of justice were speculative and disproportionate requests for information on its tax rulings from the commission. But now it has abruptly changed course and is complying with all requests. We believe this change is the result of the LuxLeaks scandal. Meanwhile, Margrethe Vestager, commissioner responsible for competition issues, has made clear that the commission is treating the LuxLeaks papers as “market information” and is actively reviewing these tax rulings to decide whether or not they should be made the subject of further illegal state-aid cases. While we understand and agree the rule of law must be observed, we note that Luxembourg prosecutors are required to have in mind whether or not the public interest is served by pursuing a criminal prosecution. We believe there is no public interest in prosecuting an individual suspected of bringing the LuxLeaks papers to the attention of the world.

Raymond Baker Global Financial Integrity
Jack A. Blum Tax Justice Network USA
José Bové French MEP (Green)
Franziska Brantner German MP (Green)
Richard Brooks Author
Prof A J Brown Griffith University
Terri Butler Australian MP (Labour)
John Christensen Tax Justice Network UK
Allison Christians McGill University
Frank Clemente Americans for Tax Fairness
Alex Cobham Centre for Global Development
Rosa L. DeLauro US Congresswoman (Democrat)
Karima Delli French MEP (Green)
Anneliese Dodds UK MEP (Labour)
Lloyd Doggett US Congressman (Democrat)
Rev Prof Andrew Dutney Uniting Church in Australia
Bas Eickhout Dutch MEP (Green)
Prof Peter Eigen Transparency International
Sven Giegold German MEP (Green)
Andrew Giles Australian MP (Labour)
Jesse Griffiths Eurodad
Gavin Hayman Global Witness
Nathaniel Heller Global Integrity
John Hilary War on Want
Martin Hojsik ActionAid International
Kelvin Hopkins UK MP (Labour)
Tim Hughes Involve
Yannick Jadot French MEP (Green)
Cathy James Public Concern at Work
Lord (Joel) Joffe UK member of upper house (Labour)
Eva Joly French MEP (Green)
Ged Kearney Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
Paul Kenny GMB union
Dr Sheila Killian University of Limerick
Philippe Lamberts Belgian MEP (Green)
Archie Law ActionAid Australia
Mauricio Lazala Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Daniel Lebegue Transparency International
Eric LeCompte Jubilee USA
Laetitia Liebert Sherpa
Caroline Lucas UK MP (Green)
Benoît Majerus University of Luxembourg
Adrienne Margolis Lawyers for Better Business
Sorley McCaughey Christian Aid Ireland
Len McCluskey Unite the union
Porter McConnell Coallition for Financial Transparency
John McDonnell UK MP (Labour)
Katherine McFate Center for Effective Government
Michael Meacher UK MP (Labour)
Austin Mitchell UK MP (Labour)
Richard Murphy Tax Research UK
Melissa Parke Australian MP (Labour)
Cedric Perrin French senator (UMP)
Prof Sol Picciotto Lancaster University
Bernard Pinaud CCFD-Terre Solidaire
Prof Thomas Pogge Yale University
Marc Purcell Australian Council for International Development
David Quentin Tax Justice Network UK
Michèle Rivasi French MEP (Green)
Friederike Roder ONE
Prof Tulio Rosembuj University of Barcelona
Molly Scott Cato UK MEP (Green)
Mark Serwotka PCS union
Nick Shaxon Author
Prof Prem Sikka University of Essex
Nick Smith UK MP (Labour)
Jim Stewart Trinity College, Dublin
Lord (Ben) Stoneham UK member of the upper house (Lib Dem)
Dr Andy Storey University College Dublin
Ernest Urtasun Spanish MEP (Green)
Tom van der Lee Oxfam Novib
Denis Vienot Justice et Paiz
Duncan Wigan Copenhagen Business School
Rebecca Wilkins FACT Coalition
Dan Wootton Uniting Church in Australia
Dr Mark Zirnsak Tax Justice Network Australia

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