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Return to: Home > Comments > Editor's letter: Antoine Deltour – the Daniel Ellsberg of accountancy

Editor's letter: Antoine Deltour – the Daniel Ellsberg of accountancy

Photo by Comité de soutien à Antoine Deltour

Ellsberg helped to put an end to the Vietnam War with the release of the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s. With the LuxLeaks, Deltour will help to wage a necessary war against tax dodgers and their aides.

I've been asked to give a written testimony in the LuxLeaks trial. I think I should disclose this fact to our readers for two main reasons.

First, because I'm proud and honoured to offer my views about the impact that Deltour's actions will achieve in the fight against tax avoidance. I believe in 50 years' time Deltour will be seen as the Daniel Ellsberg of accountancy.

The latter helped to put an end to the Vietnam War with the release of the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s. With the LuxLeaks, the former will help to wage a necessary war against tax dodgers and their aides.

In both cases the dangers these whistle-blowers tried to mitigate were life-threatening.

Don't forget that the sort of tax avoidance the LuxLeaks revealed was nothing short of a moral theft, but one with lethal consequences in human lives by dramatically slashing the standard of living.

The plunder of public resources impacts on basic services from security and health care to education and welfare.

Second, because readers should know where I stand on this matter, as they could legitimately regard our magazine's coverage as biased and non-objective.

For these reasons, I think it could be of interest to reproduce some excerpts of my written testimony for the LuxLeaks trial:

"As editor of The Accountant, a London-based global magazine founded in 1874, I have followed with interest the case of Mr Antoine Deltour.

Our publication covers industry issues in depth from a global perspective. As such, our coverage also includes topics related to professional ethics and integrity: the values that accountants (as individual professionals) and accountancy firms (as accountable corporate citizens), should enhance and defend.

In this respect, Mr Deltour has made an enormous contribution to dignify the accountancy profession's moral compass and inform the debate about tax avoidance.

At a time of austerity when public services are in danger of hitting the most vulnerable people in society, tax avoidance and particularly those who facilitate it, should be under stricter scrutiny.

To the best of my knowledge, Mr Deltour has acted altruistically to defend the ethos of this profession, and by doing so defended the general public who are being ripped off by aggressive and dodgy avoidance schemes.

In my view, the LuxLeaks have opened a can of worms and those who procure and benefit from tax avoidance should be the ones who are held to account.

Ironically a brave whistle-blower, like Mr Deltour, who has stood up to defend the public interest dimension of the accountancy profession and its good and established values (such as the promotion of transparency for all stakeholders) is paying the price.

While in other jurisdictions, Mr Deltour would be protected and financially rewarded, it's hard to understand why he's facing a hard time just for defending the common good.

I believe Mr Deltour's commitment to professional ethics is exemplary and accountants in all countries should take note and be inspired by the courageous actions of this young professional.

Young accountants have bright and handsomely paid careers waiting for them. But, in light of the LuxLeaks and the recent Panama Papers revelations, society will demand professionals follow that very moral compass that Mr Deltour has helped to calibrate, pointing in the right direction for them.

Our magazine as well as our sister publication International Accounting Bulletin selected Mr Deltour for our annual Power 50 of 2015, a list of personalities who our editorial team believe have been a force for good and an influential player of the global accountancy industry."


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