The French financial crimes prosecution unit the Parquet National Financier (PNF) has written to the Portuguese authorities asking to question the Football Leaks whistleblower Rui Pinto. They also want full access to the 70 million or so confidential documents that he has obtained on the world of professional football. Pinto is currently on trial in Portugal charged with computer hacking, violation of private correspondence and attempted blackmail, which together carry a possible jail term of 25 years. The move by the French prosecutors is good news for Pinto, however, as it supports his claim that his sole motive was to expose corruption and fraud in the sport. Yann Philippin reports.
Rui Pinto, the whistleblower behind the Football Leaks revelations of corruption and fraud that have rocked the world of professional football, is to stand trial in Portugal on September 4th. The 31-year-old faces 90 charges which carry up to 25 years in prison. But after reaching a cooperation agreement with Portuguese authorities, he is now in a witness protection scheme. Der Spiegel magazine, Mediapart’s partner in the European Investigative Collaborations network which jointly published the Football Leaks investigations, has met with Pinto ahead of his trial.
At a court appearance in Lisbon this month, Rui Pinto, 31, the Portuguese whistleblower behind Football Leaks, the largest ever exposé of documents and correspondence detailing widespread criminal behaviour in the world of professional football, ranging from fraud and tax evasion to match-fixing and political corruption, was ordered to stand trial on 90 charges related to his alleged hacking activities, when he will face a maximum sentence of 25 years in jail. Yann Philippin and Miguel Prado report.
Rui Pinto, the Portuguese whistleblower behind the Football Leaks revelations of widespread criminality in the world of professional football, ranging from fraud and tax evasion to match-fixing and political corruption, has been held for more than six months in preventive detention in conditions of solitary confinement in a Lisbon jail. Accused of illegal hacking of documents and attempted extorsion, the 30-year-old faces trial for 147 alleged offences relating to his disclosures of illegal practices in the football business in Portugal. But in a defiant statement, Pinto has slammed the Portuguese prosecution services for ignoring the evidence of corruption he gave them, of protecting those behind it, and of transforming him into “a sort of political prisoner”.
Documents obtained from the whistleblowing platform Football Leaks reveal a financial structure that Spanish tax authorities suspect was used to hide part of the remunerations paid to FC Barcelona star player Lionel Messi, already convicted of tax fraud in 2016 along with his father Jorge Messi. The documents detail how the latter received 6.7 million euros from the Catalan club via a Luxembourg bank account belonging to a shell company registered in London.
by Yann Philippin, Begoña Perez Ramírez (Infolibre) and EIC
William Bourdon, the lawyer representing Rui Pinto, who was arrested last week in Hungary at the demand of the Portuguese authorities, has confirmed that his client is “John”, the alias given to the key source behind the Football Leaks revelations that have rocked the world of professional football. The more than 70 million Football Leaks documents were the starting point for two series of investigations published by Mediapart and its partners in the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) media consortium, and which have revealed widespread corruption and fraud in the shadows of the “beautiful game”. In this in-depth interview with the EIC, Bourdon offers further detail about Pinto’s actions, and dismisses his presentation by the Portuguese media “simply as a hacker, whereas he is a significant whistleblower”.
by Rafael Buschmann, Christoph Winterbach et Michael Wulzinger (Der Spiegel)
Rui Pinto, the Portuguese whistleblower linked to the Football Leaks revelations, was released on conditional bail by a Hungarian court on Friday after his arrest following an extradition demand issued by the Portuguese authorities. Pinto, 30, who is to fight the extradition demand, is accused of attempted extortion and data theft. Mediapart can confirm that he is cooperating with French prosecution services and has agreed to help Swiss prosecutors in separate investigations into suspected tax evasion and corruption revealed by the Football Leaks documents.
In just a few years the International Centre for Sport Security, an NGO based in Doha, has made a name for itself in the global fight against corruption in sport. But Football Leaks reveals a hidden side to this organisation which is funded by the Qatari state and which works with the United Nations, the Council of Europe and Sorbonne University in Paris. In April 2015 former police officers working for the ICSS went to Lausanne to tail one of the key figures in world sport, the Kuwaiti sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah. Mediapart's Antton Rouget and Mathieu Martinière and Robert Schmidt from independent journalistic collective We Report investigate.
by Antton Rouget, Mathieu Martiniere and Robert Schmidt (We Report)
The vice-president and CEO of AS Monaco receives 10% of the profits made on the sale of players by the French football club, according to evidence from Football Leaks documents. Vadim Vasilyev, who is a close ally of club owner Dmitry Rybolovlev, is in line to receive up to 41 million euros in total from player transfers over the last five seasons.
In 2014, at the height of a bitter divorce battle with his wife of 23 years, Elena Rybolovleva, Russian multi-billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev organised the arrest of his wife when she travelled to Cyprus, where much of his fortune is placed, to discuss a settlement with him. The oligarch is close to high-ranking figures in Cyprus, and the circumstances of the arrest were, at the very least, highly unusual, while confidential messages swapped at the time by Rybolovlev’s aides spoke of secret meetings with a man called “our friend”, and a “president”. In this third report in a seven-part series of investigations into the oligarch’s activities, Mediapart unveils the disturbing background to Elena Rybolovleva’s arrest.
When Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev took control of AS Monaco in 2011, he had not only offered himself a football club, he had secured himself a base from where he began spinning a web of influence in the Riviera micro-state, including around Monaco’s royal family. In this second of a seven-part series of investigations into the oligarch’s activities, Mediapart lifts the lid on a developing scandal shaking the Rock.
Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev bought football club AS Monaco in December 2011. But the man whose assets include a Greek island, luxurious properties worldwide including a Palm Beach mansion bought from Donald Trump, an Airbus, and a vast collection of artworks, had set his eyes on offering himself much more – namely, a country. This investigation is the first in a series of seven Mediapart reports into the activities of the oligarch, based partly on documents from the Football Leaks data files.
Documents from Football Leaks lift the lid on the real cost and the dealings behind the record-breaking transfer in the summer of 2017 of Brazilian football star Neymar from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Revealed here by Mediapart, they tell of massive commission payments, up-to-the-wire negotiations that almost collapsed amid a tetchy moment of bluff, tax dilemmas and the club’s suspicions that some of those accompanying the player to Paris were in undeclared employment. Meanwhile, despite the capture of one of the world’s most celebrated players, the transfer appears to represent a financial abyss for PSG.
Barcelona's star Lionel Messi has become the first footballer in the world to be on a 100-million-euros a year contract, according to documents supplied by whistle-blowing platform Football Leaks and revealed by Mediapart and other members of the journalistic consortium European Investigative Collaborations (EIC). They show that the Argentine player signed a four-year deal with the Catalan club worth more than 400 million euros to keep him at the club until 2021. Mediapart and the EIC can also reveal that Messi's club Barcelona helped him pay millions of euros in back taxes in relation to his children's charity after they were advised that some club donations to it should have been classified as salary payments. Yann Philippin, Rafael Buschmann, Michael Wulzinger, Nicola Naber (Der Spiegel) and Paula Guisado (El Mundo) report.
by Yann Philippin and Raphaël Buschmann, Michael Wulzinger et Nicola Naber (Der Spiegel)
Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is threatening to leave Spain if its justice system proves too troublesome for him over his tax affairs. The Real Madrid star, who faces an investigation into alleged tax evasion, insists that he has acted in good faith and says that all his fiscal arrangements were authorised. To back this claim, he and his advisors point to the fact that the authorities in England had no problem with his fiscal set-up when he played for Manchester United. But according to new documents from the whistle-blowing platform Football Leaks, and revealed here by Mediapart, there are now question marks over this line of defence. Michaël Hajdenberg and Yann Philippin report.