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21st Oct 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.

European Jews call for 'united front' after German attack 10. Oct, 09:28
Jewish leaders have raised alarm on the climate of hate in Europe after an antisemitic killing in Germany on Wednesday.

Belgium's EU nominee sails through, despite allegations 2. Oct, 16:35
Didier Reynders, Belgium's nominee for EU justice commissioner promised to be tough on Hungary and Poland, while brushing off corruption allegations in his parliament hearing.

Belgium's EU nominee still embroiled in legal feud 30. Sep, 18:11
Cache of 18 secret documents and allegations of death threats in fresh legal complaint surrounding Belgium's EU nominee, Didier Reynders, shortly after a low-level prosecutor cleared his name.

EU sides with Google in data protection case 24. Sep, 17:44
The European Commission suggests the French data protection watchdog overstretched its remit to make Google delist names on a global scale from search query results, as part of the 'right to be forgotten' rule in the EU's data protection regulation.

Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations 20. Sep, 09:34
Nine EU commissioner candidates have been taken to task for incomplete or "downright shocking" financial declarations by the European Parliament's legal affairs committee.

News in Brief
  1. Today, 16:34 Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder
  2. Today, 16:33 Erdogan accuses EU of 'standing by terrorists' in Syria
  3. Today, 16:32 Migrants riot in Maltese camp
  4. Today, 16:31 Spanish PM refuses dialogue with Catalonia president
  5. Today, 16:29 Putin: Russia will help Africa without 'conditions'
  6. Today, 09:19 Almost 200 arrests in Catalonia independence protests
  7. Today, 09:18 Report: Russian hackers used Iranian cover to attack UK
  8. Today, 09:17 Next EU economy chief calls for looser budget policies
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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