Campaigners demonstrate ‘In Praise of Whistleblowers’
Members of the Methodist Tax Justice Network (MTJN) and the Tax Justice Network (TJN) gathered outside the Embankment headquarters of PricewaterhouseCoopers on Wednesday 5 April 2017 to demonstrate in support of whistleblowers and against the actions of PwC, who have facilitated global tax avoidance, tried to prevent the release of information in the public interest and lobbied against necessary changes to international tax laws.
The demonstration was organised by MTJN as part of the Global Week of Action to End Tax Havens, a week of tax justice campaigning from Saturday April 1st to Friday 7th, to mark the anniversary of the release of the Panama Papers. The Global Week of Action was organised by the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, to encourage tax justice campaigners all over the world to highlight the important work done by whistleblowers in exposing the human cost of the use of tax havens, and use this knowledge to put pressure on governments to make the necessary changes to end aggressive tax avoidance.
Between 12-1pm demonstrators, including Methodist ministers, held up a banner ‘In Praise of Whistleblowers’ and handed out flyers with more information on PwC’s involvement in various tax avoidance and accounting scandals, to the detriment of the public purse. PwC were at the heart of the LuxLeaks scandal which forced the EU to drastically shift their position on corporate tax avoidance. Details of deals brokered by PwC between the Luxembourg tax authorities and a number of multinational corporations were leaked by Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet to French investigative journalist Edouard Perrin. Halet was still working for PwC in Luxembourg when he leaked the information, and was threatened by PwC executives into signing a non-disclosure agreement which would have seen him sued for €10 million and the repossession of his house if he went public. Having originally been given suspended prison sentences and fines by the Luxembourg High Court in June 2016, Deltour and Halet’s sentences were reduced, but not quashed, on appeal in March 2017.
MTJN Coordinator Matthew Jones said, “We decided to hold our demonstration outside PwC’s headquarters because they have consistently advocated for the use of tax havens in a way which is damaging to developing countries and tried to silence those who would expose their harmful practices to the public. We believe that the public, and employees of PwC, should be made aware of their actions, and that they should change their attitude towards tax and those who would try to bring about change.”