Reporters Without Borders is stunned to learn that French journalist Edouard Perrin was charged in connection with investigative reporting that served the public interest by helping to expose major tax avoidance schemes.
Prosecutors said Perrin was charged as part of an investigation into a leak from within the Luxembourg branch of international accounting company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He is accused of being “co-author, if not an accomplice, in infractions committed by one of PwC’s former employees,” they said.
Perrin, who works for the production company Premières Lignes, did a report for Cash Investigation in May 2012 that had evidence of accords signed between major multinational corporations and the Luxembourg government allowing them to avoid taxes in other European countries.
As a result of this report PricewaterhouseCoopers filed a complaint about the theft of confidential documents with the Luxembourg judicial authorities, whose investigation already led to two former employees, including French auditor Antoine Deltour, being charged with “violating business confidentiality.”
Perrin is the third person to be charged.
“Luxembourg’s judicial authorities are forgetting a key point, which is that exposing the LuxLeaks tax scandal was in the public interest,” Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon said.
“The public had a right to know about Luxembourg’s now famous ‘rulings,’ which allow multinationals to avoid tax. Are the Luxembourg judicial authorities now defying the case law established by the European Court of Human Rights by punishing the journalist who first shed light on the scandal?”
Morillon added: “Such judicial methods are unworthy of a country such as Luxembourg. The right to information is a pillar of democracy and should take precedence in a case like this.”
It was after his 2012 report that Perrin was contacted by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and they began working together. Their joint investigation resulted in the LuxLeaks disclosures in late 2014 exposing the vast scale of Luxembourg tax avoidance deals with multinationals.
Luxembourg is ranked 19th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, falling 15 places in a single year.