A criminal court issued a 12-month suspended sentence on Wednesday to former employee of PriceWaterhouseCoopers Antoine Deltour for his role in leaking sensitive internal documents, which revealed how multinationals avoided taxes through sweetheart deals with the government of Luxembourg.
Meanwhile, former PWC employee Raphael Halet, who also took part in the data breach, was given a nine-month suspended sentence and fined US$1,100.
The treasure trove of over 28,000 documents was forwarded to journalist Edouard Perrin, who was acquitted by the Luxembourg judge.
During the trial, Deltour said he was proud of his actions which he said advanced the tax debate in Europe. He hoped that the outcry would result in concrete policy actions.
In response to the massive data leak, an EU committee was established to investigate national tax rules. Within the European Union, corporate tax rates vary widely, between highs of 34.4 percent in France to lows of 12.5 percent in Ireland.
Following Wednesday’s ruling, Transparency International, the Berlin-based monitoring group, condemned the prosecution and sentencing of the two plaintiffs.
“Transparency International and many other organizations have argued that the information Deltour and Halet disclosed was in the public interest,” said Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director of Transparency International.
The court ruling takes place as the EU gets ready to adopt a new law to give such corporations new legal ammunition to prosecute journalists and news organizations who publish internal documents and information.
As part of the 2014 LuxLeaks scandal, several high profile multinational corporations were implicated in tax evasion schemes including Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Starbucks and Fiat Chrysler.
The small European country has attracted big business for its favorable tax laws, largely set up by presiding EU President Jean-Claude Juncker.