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Tax whistleblowers

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The European Parliament Special Tax Rulings Committee held a meeting on 11 May with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to share their experiences on the November 2014 ‘Luxleaks’ revelations, where members of the European Parliament (MEPs) complimented them on their ‘courageous work’. Several MEPs voiced special support for French journalist Edouard Perrin, who is being prosecuted in Luxembourg for his part in revealing secret tax rulings in the Grand Duchy, a move which MEPs described as ‘foolish’ and ‘scandalous’.

‘Whistleblowers should receive protection when they reveal behaviour that goes against the public interest and not only when they reveal illegal activities’, Richard Brooks of the ICIJ told the hearing. ‘There should also be more openness about tax rulings and similar arrangements and countries which defraud other countries should be sanctioned’. The ICIJ’s Kristof Clerix added that its members’ work was attracting ever more whistleblowers, following their revelations of ‘offshore leaks’, ‘Luxleaks’ and ‘Swissleaks’ but warned that whistleblowing is not a good career move, as most end up in financial difficulties. ‘Maybe you should think of financial awards, as they have in the US’, he suggested, referring to awards granted by the US Internal Revenue Service for revelations of illegal tax planning. A committee delegation is to visit Luxembourg on Monday 18 May to investigate the Grand Duchy’s tax ruling practices.