Business secrecy is used to put pressure on the press. Example !

Edouard Perrin at the Louise Weiss Prize - AJE France
Edouard Perrin at the Louise Weiss Prize – AJE France

(BRUXELLES2) During an interview with several journalists, French MEP Constance Le Grip – in charge of the report on business secrecy – did not quite understand why journalists were worried about the current secrecy directive Business. "I don't really understand how a journalist could be prosecuted for violation of business secrecy," she explained bravely. Here is the proof, concrete, real!

One of the Luxleaks revealers prosecuted

It concerns one of the journalists who contributed, with the ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists), to make public the current practices of tax evasion and tax rulings – what we call Luxleaks. Edouard Perrin's investigation — "Fiscal paradises: the secrets of large companies" — was broadcast on France 2 in the program "Cash investigation", and rewarded with the Louise Weiss Prize of European journalism awarded by the French section of the Association of European Journalists in 2012 (NB: of which I am one of the vice-presidents).

Price Waterhouse Coopers files a complaint

Since then, Edouard Perrin has indeed been charged with "domestic theft, violation of professional secrecy, violation of business secrets, money laundering and fraudulent access to an automated data processing system" following a complaint in June 2012 in Luxembourg. of the firm Price Waterhouse Coopers, firm which is at the origin of these financial arrangements. He is condemned for having done and only having done his work as a journalist.

A violation of the right to information

As we write toAJE – France, this charge is not normal. " The charges of theft of confidential documents and violation of business secrecy brought against Edouard Perrin and former PwC employees are clearly an attempt to control, even censor journalists and whistleblowers. How many scandals would have gone unmentioned without this work, which is essential to the exercise of democracy? » He is " worrying to note that, in defiance of European law and legislation on the right to information and freedom of expression, Edouard Perrin and his sources are charged”. of Edouard Perrin, journalist at the Première Lignes press agency, by the Luxembourg courts, in the financial scandal known as "LuxLeaks ».

An exemplary case on the directive under discussion

The European directive on "business secrets", currently under discussion, should formally guarantee this freedom to inform, and not ask journalists to justify themselves as currently (read our analysis: Trade secrets … the return. Attention danger !). The European institutions, guarantors of press freedom, must now translate their words into deeds. They must therefore work to more strictly guarantee the rights of journalists in the directive on business law.

Institutions to act

The Luxembourg government, which will take over the presidency of the European Union on July 1, should do what is necessary to prevent this affair from tarnishing its presidency for the next six months. PwC (*) which is at the origin of the complaint should be banned from any public procurement or contract with the European institutions as long as it maintains its attitude.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(*) the PwC firm was recently commissioned by the European Commission to carry out an impact study on the obligations weighing on banks under the new directive known as CRD4. He had carried out on behalf of Olaf - the anti-fraud office - a survey on corruption in European public procurement. PwC is used to European study contracts. He had made a survey in 2008 on the VAT invoicing rules set out in the VAT Directive.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).