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18th Nov 2019

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MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  • Football Leaks has exposed massive tax evasion (Photo: bildungsr0man)

Brussels, 14. Jun, 16:20
Rui Pedro Goncalves Pinto, a 30-year old whistleblower who exposed widespread corruption in top European football clubs, has been sitting in pre-trail detention in Portugal for almost three months.

On Friday (14 June), Ana Gomes, a Portuguese socialist MEP, told this website that his incarceration is a miscarriage of justice, in a country that is football crazy.

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  • 'Pinto is a true whistleblower, he needs protection not prosecution, said Ana Gomes MEP (Photo: europarl.eruopa.eu)
"In Portugal, football is the opium of the people. Football corrupts everything and everybody," she said, citing a pair of high level judges who themselves are on trial for corruption.

But the case of Pinto, whose Football Leaks helped prosecute some of the biggest stars like Cristiano Ronaldo in Spain, has riled Gomes.

The leaks spans some 1.9 terabytes of information and a total of 18.6m documents.

Over 60 journalists from a dozen countries are pouring through the information, leading to a host of tax-evasion convictions for top football stars.

It found, for instance, that Ronaldo had diverted €63.5m into a tax haven of the British Virgin Islands at the end of 2014. The move hid away some €35m from the public coffers.

Pinto, who is Portuguese, faces 10 years in jail.

"He is a true whistleblower, he needs protection not prosecution," said Gomes.

The MEP had helped draft the EU's fourth anti-money laundering directive, now in force, which is supposed to compel EU states to protect anyone that reports money laundering crimes.

Gomes pointed out that authorities from Belgium, France and the Netherlands had also all sought out Pinto for his help in cracking down on other suspects.

In Portugal, the opposite occurred, she said.

"The criminals in the [football] industry want to punish him, to silence him, to destroy him, this is to break him psychologically," she said.

Pinto was detained in Hungary, where he had been living, on charges of cyber crime and extortion and then extradited to Portugal.

Although leaving her post as an MEP, Gomes says she intends to formally seek out the European Parliament to pile on the pressure on Portuguese authorities for his release.

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EU on path towards whistleblower protection 12. Mar, 15:22
EU lawmakers and member states have struck a political deal on the first-ever EU-wide directive on whistleblower protection - following years of big tax-evasion revelations and the laundering of dirty money in European banks.

Feature Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act 14. Nov, 09:16
"If evil is not defeated, it tends to expand", Natalia Magnitsky, the widow of a Russian anti-corruption activist, has said, as EU diplomats discuss human rights sanctions 10 years after his death.

Commission defends Breton's Atos over police data 5. Nov, 16:27
The European Commission defended Atos for hosting EU police data, despite its own public guidelines that state operational and technical copies should not be entrusted to third parties. Atos former CEO Thierry Breton is set to become a European commissioner.

Optimism and populism clash in central Europe 4. Nov, 09:28
Academics and young women could help to protect democracy in central Europe, a new study has indicated.

Exclusive Breton's firm hosted unlawful copy of EU police data 4. Nov, 09:10
France's Thierry Breton is set to become the next European Commissioner for industrial policy. While he was CEO of IT giant Atos, the firm hosted unlawful partial copies of EU police data on behalf of the United Kingdom.

No large-scale disinformation detected in EU this year 29. Oct, 15:55
The EU set up a 'Rapid Alert System' in March to allow national authorities in member states to inform the rest of the bloc of any large-scale disinformation campaigns. No alert has so far been triggered.

News in Brief
  1. Today, 09:02 US ex-diplomat: Trump's 'historical mistake' on EU
  2. Today, 09:01 France's MoDem finance director indicted on EP funds
  3. Today, 09:00 Cyprus hopes for reunification talks in December
  4. Today, 08:58 Russian link to €406m crypto disappearance
  5. Today, 08:57 President of Catalonia faces trial for disobedience
  6. Today, 08:54 Microsoft revises data privacy terms following EU probe
  7. Today, 08:53 Wildfire 'doubled Scotland's emissions' in six days
  8. 15. Nov, 14:48 Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
Romania warned of EU wrath over corruption 14. May, 09:17
Romania could face a barrage of EU sanctions if it created "de facto impunity" for corrupt officials, the European Commission has warned.

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission 7. May, 17:54
German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

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