‘Lux Leaks’ whistleblower charged with theft and giving away secrets

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A Luxembourg judge has charged a former PwC employee suspected of leaking documents about secret corporate tax deals with theft and giving away business secrets.

The Luxembourg public prosecutor’s office said an examining magistrate had also charged the unidentified person with breaching professional confidentiality and fraudulent access to a computerised data system.

The accused is suspected of stealing thousands of pages of documents on secret corporate tax dealings that were given to journalists in a case that became known as ‘Lux Leaks’. He was also charged with money-laundering but the prosecutor’s office gave no detail of that allegation.

PwC Luxembourg could not immediately be reached for comment.

Luxembourg prosecutors opened an investigation into what has become known as the Luxleaks affair after PwC filed a complaint in June 2012.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists said in November that more than 300 companies had secured secret deals from Luxembourg to slash their tax bills.

Companies included Ikea, HSBC, Aviva, Axa, Burberry, Amazon, Citigroup, Coca Cola, Reckett Benckiser and Guardian Media Group, according to a House of Commons committee.

The group of investigative journalists said the companies appeared to have channelled hundreds of billions of dollars through Luxembourg and saved billions of dollars in taxes, based on a review of nearly 28,000 pages of confidential documents.

Luxembourg’s finance ministry has said its system for issuing advance rulings to companies, outlining how the tax authority would treat their transactions, was “compliant with international and national law”.

PwC UK’s head of tax, Kevin Nicholson, last week defended the firm’s practices when he faced hostile questioning from MPs before the Public Accounts Committee.