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25th Aug 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.

Belgium's EU commissioner hopeful in free press row 21. Aug, 09:28
Didier Reynders, Belgium's EU commissioner hopeful and foreign minister backed bill that could sentence whistle-blowers to five years in prison and fine journalists up to €5,000.

Polish minister targeted judges in hate campaign 20. Aug, 09:17
Poland's deputy minister of justice personally organised a hate campaign against selected judges, Polish media have revealed, amid EU concern on rule of law.

EU 'outdoing Bush' on sea and train passenger-data warning 8. Aug, 16:49
The executive director of Privacy International has warned that plans to expand EU rules on passenger data collection to Europe's railway and sea passengers "does not end well."

Investigation EU may extend 'passenger name records' to rail and sea 6. Aug, 16:42
Documents reveal that EU states are considering broadening requirements on keeping passenger records, currently only applicable to air carriers, to providers of other modes of transport.

UK taking 'steps' after illegal copying of EU Schengen data 25. Jul, 09:22
According to a classified report, the UK made illegal copies of EU security data, and its disregard for EU rules on handling such data was a "serious and immediate risk". The Commission now says "practical steps" have since been taken.

News in Brief
  1. 23. Aug, 15:36 Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. 23. Aug, 14:10 Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. 23. Aug, 14:10 British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. 23. Aug, 14:09 Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. 23. Aug, 09:15 German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. 23. Aug, 08:32 Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. 23. Aug, 08:30 Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. 23. Aug, 08:29 Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations
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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  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
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