Accused and protected as a witness by his country’s judiciary, the 34-year-old claims the role of whistleblower, but admitted before his judges to illegal computer hacks to obtain millions of documents, which he began publishing directly on the Internet in late 2015.
A wealth of information sent to the Consortium of European Investigative Media highlights questionable practices involving star players, clubs and agents, which have since been the subject of tax changes and legal investigations in several countries.
From the revelation of Messi or Neymar’s salary to the rape allegation against Cristiano Ronaldo being dismissed, including strategies to avoid financial fair play at Manchester City or racial profiling at Paris Saint-Germain, planet football has been deep. Shocked by this massive leak.
“I was outraged by what I discovered and decided to make it public,” Rui Pinto said at the start of his trial in September 2020, adding that the “soccer leaks” were “a reason for pride and not shame.”
He is responsible for 89 computer hacking acts ranging from letter violations to data theft committed against Sporting Portugal Club, the Doian Sports Investment Fund, the Portuguese Football Federation, a major law firm and magistrates from the Portuguese Public Prosecutor’s Office.
He is also on trial for attempted extortion, a crime punishable by two to ten years in prison. According to the prosecution, the Portuguese threatened Doyen’s boss, his compatriot Nelio Lucas, and demanded between 500,000 and one million euros to stop releasing compromising documents.
It was the complaint of this Malta-based investment fund, controlled by a family of Kazakh-Turkish oligarchs, that put Portuguese police on the trail of a self-taught “hacker” from the Porto region (north).
The latest postponement of the judgment date is because the 30-year-old can benefit from an amnesty granted by the Portuguese government during Pope Francis’ visit in order to participate in World Youth Day in Lisbon. In early August.
However, Monday’s expected decision will not end his trouble with Portuguese justice, which recently drew new indictments accusing him of 377 new computer crimes between 2016 and 2019, allegedly against 70 people, companies or entities.
Arrested in January 2019 in Hungary, where he lived, and later extradited to his home country, Rui Pinto spent more than a year in pre-trial detention after agreeing to cooperate with authorities in other cases, allowing access to encrypted data he had in his possession.
French authorities also sought the cooperation of the Portuguese, the so-called “Luanda Leaks”, in an investigation published in January 2020 accusing Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos of fraudulently amassing vast assets.
At the end of his trial, he admitted to having “illegally” obtained classified information with a “group of friends” he declined to identify.
He expressed regret for his behavior to Doian Sports and Nelio Lucas, describing it as “big stupidity” and assured him that he did not intend to follow through on his threat.
Portuguese law does not allow him to benefit from whistleblower status, but his lawyers hope that judges will take the public interest of his revelations into account when making their ruling.
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