Rui Pedro Gonçalves Pinto
|Born||20 October 1988|
Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
|Education||University of Porto|
|Height||5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)|
|Criminal charge(s)||violation of secrecy|
illegally accessing information
attempted qualified extortion
|Criminal status||On trial|
Rui Pedro Gonçalves Pinto (born 20 October 1988) is a Portuguese whistleblower, creator of the Football Leaks website, and responsible for and Luanda Leaks revelations. Winner of GUE/NGL Award for “Journalists, Whistleblowers and Defenders of the Right to Information”. He created the Football Leaks website in September 2015 with the intention of revealing the financial picture of association football, including the tax avoidance schemes used by top players and the controversial third-party ownership models used by clubs.
He was arrested in Budapest, Hungary, on 16 January 2019 at the request of the Portuguese authorities for suspicion of attempted qualified extortion, violation of secrecy and illegally accessing information, and was released on 7 August 2020.
Pinto was born on 20 October 1988 in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal. A keen football fan, he grew up supporting FC Porto. He frequently skipped school to spend time at home on his computer; his high school geography teacher said that "It’s very, very difficult to characterize Rui: if he wanted it, he would probably be the best pupil from the class, but he was not". Most of his computer skills are self-taught and he never received any advanced formal education in the field. He began studying history at the University of Porto in 2008 and enrolled in a study-abroad program in Budapest in 2013. He was alleged to have stolen €300,000 from Cayman Islands-based Caledonian Bank, though he denied any wrongdoing and stated that he challenged the bank in order to show "how the Cayman Islands are largely used for tax evasion and to launder money". He reached an out of court settlement with the Caledonian Bank in 2014 and has since refused to comment further on the incident, citing a non-disclosure agreement.
Pinto returned to Hungary permanently in February 2015 and made money by helping his father's antique business. He maintained an interest in football and computer hacking, and later that summer acquired thousands of internal e-mails from Doyen Sports Investments, a football agency company backed by Kazakh money. Pinto created the identity of Artem Lobuzov and offered to meet with Doyen Sports to discuss keeping the information secret in exchange for a "good donation". No money changed hands as Pinto broke off contact with Doyen Sports. Pinto later stated that he had tried to meet Doyen Sports in order to verify that the documents he found were real, whilst Doyen Sports claimed that Pinto had actually been scared off after reading correspondence between Doyen Sports and Portuguese police.
Pinto created the Football Leaks website in September 2015 with the stated aim to reveal "the principal protagonists in the dishonest football industry". Countries including the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Switzerland have opened criminal investigations based on documents released on the Football Leaks website. Rafael Buschmann, a journalist for German newspaper Der Spiegel successfully made contact with Pinto in 2016 with the intention of examining the documents he had uncovered and reporting exclusively on the stories in depth. Pinto provided Der Spiegel with four terabytes of confidential information over the next three years. In December 2016, Der Spiegel and other partners at the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) network (including L'Espresso, Le Soir, NRC Handelsblad, The Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism / The Black Sea, Mediapart, Politiken, Falter, NewsWeek, El Mundo, The Sunday Times, and Expresso) began working together to investigate documents provided by Pinto in order to publish information about tax avoidance by several football stars. The leaks resulted in multiple footballers being convicted of tax evasion, the Las Vegas police department to investigate an allegation of rape by Cristiano Ronaldo, for Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain to be investigated for breaking UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations (FFP) regulations and also revealed plans from big clubs for the formation of a 'European Super League'. In 2018 Rafael Buschmann released a book, entitled Football Leaks, detailing his role in establishing a working relationship with Pinto.
"The information Football Leaks made public — including player contracts, internal team financial documents and confidential emails — pulled back the curtain on the murky world of soccer finance, led to criminal tax prosecutions of several top players and even helped prompt officials in the United States to reopen a sexual assault investigation involving the Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.— The New York Times reporter Tariq Panja.
On 19 January 2020, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published a detailed report on how Isabel dos Santos amassed her wealth to become Africa's richest woman. The report – which it called Luanda Leaks – provides evidence of how she "made a fortune at the expense of the Angolan people". Pinto's lawyers claim that he provided the source material for this report. Three days later, dos Santos's personal wealth manager and private banking director Nuno Ribeiro da Cunha was found dead in the garage of his house.
Pinto was identified as the source of Football Leaks by Portuguese magazine Sábado in September 2018. He was arrested in Budapest on 16 January 2019 at the request of the Portuguese authorities for suspicion of attempted qualified extortion, violation of secrecy and illegally accessing information. His lawyers argued that as a whistleblower he was entitled to protection under European law. However he was extradited to Portugal two months later and was charged with 147 crimes by the Public Ministry. Portuguese prosecutors claim that Pinto attempted to extort Doyen Sports for one million euros using the identity of Artem Lobuzov, whilst Pinto's legal team stated that "the team set up by the Public Prosecution to investigate criminality in the football world seems to be more dedicated to pursuing those who denounce it than investigating those who practice the crimes". His case was taken up by French lawyer William Bourdon, who has previously defended Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.
On April 16, 2019, Rui Pinto was one of the winners of the European whistleblower award promoted by the European United Left (GUE / NGL), along with Julian Assange and .
On August 7, 2020, Rui Pinto was released.
The trial started on September 4, 2020, surrounded by strong security measures, never seen before in Portugal. In a short statement before the panel of judges, he said he was a whistleblower, who made public a lot of important information, which would otherwise never be known, and never received money.
In several trial sessions, dubious and allegedly criminal acts perpetrated by those who investigated on the part of the investigation were identified, having led the panel of judges to extract two certificates to investigate the conduct of inspectors of the Portuguese Judicial Police.
- Knight, Sam (27 May 2019). "How Football Leaks Is Exposing Corruption in European Soccer". The New Yorker. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
- "Rui Pinto: hacker who targetted football and Angola's 'princess'". France 24. 27 January 2020. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
- Panja, Tariq (20 September 2019). "Hacker Who Revealed Soccer Secrets Is Charged With 147 Crimes (Published 2019)". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
- Aarons, Ed (28 February 2020). "Football Leaks' Rui Pinto in prison with hard-drive passwords in his head". the Guardian. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
- "Football Leaks: Ronaldo and Mourinho accused of tax avoidance". BBC News. 3 December 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
- "Football Leaks, the soccer's business secrets: Cristiano Ronaldo and Mourinho go offshore". espresso.repubblica.it. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
- "Football Leaks claims Euro Super League talks held by clubs". BBC Sport. 2 November 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
- Sanghera, Mandeep; Alistair, Magowan (6 November 2018). "Man City and Paris St-Germain 'are cheating and should be punished'". BBC Sport. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
- Buschmann, Rafael; Wulzinger, Michael (2018). Football leaks : the dirty deals behind the beautiful game. London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 9781783351428.
- Isabel dos Santos made a fortune at the expense of the Angolan people, Luanda Leaks reveals. icij.org, published 19 January 2020
- "Luanda Leaks | Aparece muerto en Portugal el gestor financiero de Isabel dos Santos". El Confidencial (in Spanish). 23 January 2020. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
- Allsop, Jon (2 August 2019). "The complex case of Rui Pinto". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
- Hacker behind 'Football Leaks' arrested in Hungary ZDNet
- Demony, Catarina; Almeida, Gonçalo (23 January 2019). "Arrested Portuguese hacker is Football Leaks 'whistleblower': lawyers". Reuters. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
- Panja, Tariq (23 January 2019). "When Is a Hacker a Whistle-Blower? In Football Leaks Case, a Hungarian Judge Will Decide (Published 2019)". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
- "'Hacker' Rui Pinto já está em Portugal" [Hacker Rui Pinto is already in Portugal]. SAPO Desporto (in Portuguese). 21 March 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
- Oliveira, Mariana; Dantas, Miguel (19 September 2019). "Ministério Público acusa Rui Pinto de 147 crimes" [Public Ministry charge Rui Pinto with 147 crimes]. Público (in Portuguese). Retrieved 21 September 2019.