Luxembourg whistle-blower plays down role in tax deals

Antoine Deltour spent two years as an intern and a junior auditor with Pricewaterhouse Coopers

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The Independent Online

A Frenchman accused of being the whistle-blower in the LuxLeaks tax avoidance scandal said yesterday that he had played only a small and inadvertent role in the affair.

Antoine Deltour, 28, was formally accused in Luxembourg last Friday of theft, money-laundering and exposing trade secrets.

He said yesterday that he had downloaded documents on secret tax deals between Luxembourg and multinational companies in 2010 and had given them to a French journalist two years ago. He says he was astonished – and annoyed – when they appeared last month, alongside more recent leaks, on the site of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Mr Deltour spent two years as an intern and a junior auditor with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC)in Luxembourg from 2008 to 2010. He told the French newspaper Libération yesterday that he had resigned when he discovered the “reality of a system of massive tax avoidance”.

“On the eve of a departure, one naturally looks to capitalise on one’s professional experience,” Mr Deltour said. “While searching the PwC database, I also came across these famous tax rulings. Without any particular intention or precise plan, I copied [them] because I was appalled by their content.”

The documents revealed deals that allowed 340 of the world’s largest companies, including Apple, Ikea and Pepsi, to avoid billions of dollars in taxes on their activities in other countries. The revelations have deeply embarrassed the new European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, who was Prime Minister of Luxembourg at the time.

Mr Deltour appeared to be torn yesterday between admitting and minimising, his role in the revelations. He had originally revealed the documents to a number of non-governmental organisations, which took no action, he said. He then gave them to a French journalist for a magazine article in 2012. Nothing further happened until hundreds of the documents were posted on the investigative website in November.

“As far as I was concerned, these documents should only have been used for the original magazine article,” he said.

“From the beginning, I acted out of conviction, for my belief (in the public interest), not to appear in the media. I am just one element in a bigger movement.”

Mr Juncker survived a no-confidence vote in the European Parliament last month.