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Top five stories you may have missed

3 min. 15.05.2021
In case you missed them, the Luxembourg Times has selected the best stories of the week for you
The number of secret tax deals Luxembourg handed out to companies fell further last year
The number of secret tax deals Luxembourg handed out to companies fell further last year
Photo credit: LT Archive

Fewer secret tax rulings in Luxembourg
  
The number of secret tax deals Luxembourg handed out to companies fell further last year, the finance ministry said, as the country continues to fight its reputation as a tax haven after the LuxLeaks scandal.

Such sweetheart deals came under fire in 2014, when the journalistic investigation revealed Luxembourg had made agreements with hundreds of large multinational companies out of the sight of the public under the reign of former Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.

Last year, there were still 44 such rulings, according to statistics published by Luxembourg’s Ministry of Finance in its annual report for 2020.  The total has decreased by more than 90% since 2015, the finance ministry said.

Amazon wins appeal in blow to Commission tax crackdown  

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has upheld an appeal by corporate giant Amazon and Luxembourg in a setback for the European Commission which had said a tax deal between the two amounted to illegal state aid. 

The Commission's 2017 ruling - in which it had ordered Amazon to repay Luxembourg tax authorities €250 million - was based on "analysis which is incorrect in several respects", the ECJ's General Court said on Wednesday. The decision can still be appealed to the higher court within the ECJ.  

Amazon was among hundreds of companies which featured in the 2014 Luxleaks journalistic investigation about secret tax rulings Luxembourg handed to companies. This triggered a swathe of cases brought by the EU’s Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, against such favourable tax rulings.  

First indictments in Madoff fraud scandal in Luxembourg  

Luxembourg prosecutors have handed out the first indictments related to the Bernard Madoff fraud after a criminal investigation had been simmering for over 10 years, the prosecutor's office said on Wednesday.

Madoff ran a $65 billion (€58 billion) Ponzi scheme - the world’s largest  - until it blew up in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008. He died in a US prison last month aged 82, serving just 12 years of a 150-year sentence. 

Fraud committed as part of Madoff's Ponzi scheme is estimated to amount to €1.5 billion in Luxembourg alone. The prosecutor's office declined to say against whom it had issued the indictments.

Flying clubs are main source of airport complaints  

A residents’ association which submitted the vast majority of the record 1,000 complaints about flights at Luxembourg’s Findel Airport in 2020 say that light aircraft operated by flying clubs are causing the most disturbances.

There have already been more complaints, 1,251, in the first four months of this year than in all of 2020, according to the agency responsible for managing air traffic in Luxembourg, ANA (Administration de la Navigation Aérienne).  The association behind the majority of the complaints both last year and this year say it is light aircraft from flying clubs and not commercial or cargo planes which are causing the most problems.  

High levels of phosphorus found in Syre river last year  

Part of a river running east of Luxembourg City had levels of phosphorus in it that were higher than legally safe under EU guidelines in two of the last four years, Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg said on Monday.

The concentration of the chemical in the Syre river was found to be too high in both 2017 and again in 2020, Dieschbourg said in response to a parliamentary question, following a study of the water in the Wecker area in Grevenmacher in the east of Luxembourg.

The incident is the latest in a string of water pollution issues which have been plaguing Luxembourg in recent years.   


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