Luxembourg made front-page news last month with the leak of hundreds of documents that had been signed when current European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, was prime minister and finance minister of Luxembourg. The leak, exposed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (“I.C.I.J.”), revealed confidential agreements approved by Luxembourg authorities that provided tax relief to more than 340 global companies.
The leaked documents implicated not only private companies but also revealed that the Canadian government received a tax ruling for its Public Sector Pension Investment Board, which manages pensions for all Canadian federal employees. The Canadian Pensions Board issued a statement addressing this ruling and claimed that since it is tax-exempt in Canada its ruling is not tax avoidance as it has “no tax advantage.”
The European Union Antitrust Authority is now expected to expand its ongoing illegal state aid probe using the leaked documents in its investigation. A high-level European Commission official said, “We expect to expand our current request for documents…These documents are now available. They are clearly relevant to the ongoing probe, which is a high political priority.”
The leaked documents put Luxembourg in hot water, especially former prime minister and finance minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, who now faces great political pressure to explain his role in the scandal. He is accused of acting to enrich his country at the expense of its European partners. His actions are purported to have been in defiance of the E.U. spirit, which he hopes to represent as the new Commission President.