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16th Jul 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.

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.

EU defends US data pact, as Facebook court case opens 9. Jul, 17:06
An Austrian privacy campaigner vs Facebook over the future of data transfers to the US case opened at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Tuesday. The European Commission, meanwhile, says the Privacy Shield pact is working fine.

Investigation Smurfing: How Russians laundered €4m in Belgium 8. Jul, 09:07
A Russian group laundered €4m in Belgium by breaking it into small chunks to buy luxury goods and an apartment, as police and regulators struggle to keep up.

Ugly face of Polish judicial reforms laid bare 4. Jul, 01:33
Polish government punishing judges and prosecutors who stand in its way with disciplinary action and smear campaigns, Amnesty International has said.

Germany shames Italy on migrant rescues 1. Jul, 09:27
Italy's recent handling of a migrant rescue ship was unbecoming of an EU founding state, Germany has said, prompting a backlash by Rome.

Polish judicial reforms broke EU law, court says 24. Jun, 17:16
Poland has lost a flagship court case over its judicial meddling brought against it by the European Commission, putting its nationalist rulers on the back foot.

News in Brief
  1. Today, 14:18 Ansip's ex-cabinet chief to head EU cybersecurity agency
  2. Today, 12:06 Malta starts trial of journalist murder suspects
  3. Today, 11:08 Full text of von der Leyen candidacy speech to MEPs
  4. Today, 09:50 Von der Leyen open to further Brexit delay
  5. Today, 09:23 Von der Leyen promises carbon border tax
  6. Today, 08:58 Brexit: both UK PM candidates say Irish backstop is 'dead'
  7. Today, 08:55 Mogherini: Iran's nuclear enrichment 'reversible'
  8. Today, 08:53 Report: Selmayr to leave 'next week'
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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  8. UNICEF Child rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDA UNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter Balance Record citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human Rights Annual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers New campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
Latest News
  1. Today, 12:04 Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post
  2. Today, 09:24 EU talks tough on Turkey, but arms sales go on
  3. Today, 08:53 The Abortion Exodus - more Poles and Croats going abroad
  4. Today, 07:17 Poland's ex-PM loses EU parliament chair again
  5. 15. Jul, 17:27 Von der Leyen reaches out to left and liberal MEPs
  6. 15. Jul, 17:24 Farmers among new MEPs deciding on EU farming money
  7. 15. Jul, 09:28 Von der Leyen's EU vote far from sure
  8. 15. Jul, 08:15 Weber: Six proposals in wake of Spitzenkandidat process
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