Disgusted by the tax evasion practiced by hundreds of multinationals with the help of his Luxembourg employer, Raphaël Halet decided in 2012 to reveal confidential documents to a journalist, becoming a central player in a scandal with worldwide repercussions.
Sentenced in 2014 in Luxembourg for "theft, computer fraud and money laundering" to six months suspended prison sentence and a 1,000 euros fine in this so-called "LuxLeaks" case, this father of two children, aged 45, is at the center of the judgment that the Metz Court of Appeal will deliver on the protection of sources on Thursday.
The magistrates will rule on the validity of a search carried out in November 2014 at his Moselle home in the presence of representatives of his former employer, the Luxembourg consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
With the approval of a judge from Metz, the cabinet had seized its exchanges of emails with Edouard Perrin, the journalist to whom Mr. Halet had provided information.
The revelation occurred in May 2012, with a report by Edouard Perrin broadcast on France 2 in the program Cash Investigation.
At the origin of this report, the whistleblower Antoine Delcourt who revealed the secret tax agreements, "tax rulings", concluded by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg with PwC for the benefit of client companies of the audit firm.
- "Industrial assembly" -
"Either I closed my eyes and I was an accomplice, or I reacted", explains Mr. Halet.
His hiring by PwC, in 2006, had put an end to a delicate pass for this independent photographer whose business had collapsed.
First a personal assistant, he was transferred in 2011 to "Tax Process Support", the tax department of PwC, "a team of 300 people".
There, "still assistant", he discovers a real "industrial assembly of tax evasion".
Son and grandson of teachers, "brought up with a sense of public service" and married to a medical secretary, he is "hurt" by tax rulings, a practice which may be perfectly legal when it comes to question the tax authorities on the interpretation of the texts, but which in this case constituted as many "arrangements designed for tax evasion", according to him.
For his professional life, he "shot himself in the foot" but "the money that escapes the tax authorities is less for schools, hospitals ... We are talking about tens, even hundreds of billions euros ".
Example: this online sales giant whose "a subsidiary declared 500 million euros in turnover and zero employees".
Mr. Halet therefore sends an email to Mr. Perrin on the address "firstname.lastname@example.org".
"I am participating in spite of myself in a system of tax evasion (...). What you have explained is only a small part of the iceberg, (...) there are many more companies, the sums at stake are much larger. I would like to contribute modestly to changing this system, "he writes anonymously.
Then under the nickname "Max" and a new address, "centmilledollarsausoleil", he delivers information on "everyday tax evasion" as well as "ten documents".
- "The fight of a lifetime" -
In 2014, the mass of documents delivered by Raphaël Halet and Antoine Delcourt will help relaunch the affair with the investigation of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (Ciji) which reveals 340 agreements concluded by Luxembourg with multinationals.
Licensed, Mr. Halet, who is threatened by his ex-employer with having to pay millions of euros in damages, is under multiple pressures and is forced to sign a restrictive confidentiality agreement.
However, he has "no regrets".
He says he is "proud of the awakening of consumer awareness" or of having contributed in his own way to the Sapin 2 law on the transparency of economic life.
From now on, Mr. Halet is fighting so that the European justice "recognizes him the status of whistleblower" that the Luxembourg justice refused to him.
He appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) where his case is being examined.
Reconverted in the public service, a "world which (him) is better", his determination is intact despite this judicial "marathon", the "fight of a lifetime".
"It's a bit my pitbull side. When I know I'm right I never give up," he said.
Raphaël Halet, however, has no illusions: "Changing the course of the fiscal liner will require" other revelations ".
© 2021 AFP