20th September 2019

Football Leaks hacker charged

Portuguese prosecutors have charged Rui Pinto, understood to be behind the Football Leaks disclosures that prompted investigations into a number of clubs, officials and businessmen connected to football, with 147 offences. Portugal’s Ministry of Public Prosecution announced that under Operation Cyberduna, charges have been brought against two defendants for attempted extortion. It added that the ‘main defendant’ – understood to be Pinto – has also been charged with 75 illegitimate access offences; one computer sabotage offence; and 70 correspondence offences, one of which was described as aggravated.

Prosecutors also accused the defendants of attempting to blackmail Doyen Sports, a Malta-based player investment subsidiary of Doyen Group, which found itself at the centre of the Football Leaks revelations. ‘The defendant also accessed the computers of Doyen Sports officials and then, assuming a fictitious identity, contacted a legal representative of the sports investment fund stating that we wanted between €500,000 and €1 million for deletion of the information in his possession’, reads a statement (below). ‘In this context, the main defendant contacted the second defendant, a lawyer, to collaborate in contacts with Doyen, who supported the plan and took steps to reach an agreement, which eventually did not happen.’

Prosecutors allege that from the beginning of 2015 until 16 January 2019, the main defendant (Pinto) used his technical knowledge and equipment to access computer systems and third party mailboxes, without authorisation. They allege that he installed computer programmes and digital tools that allowed him anonymous to access and remove information from such systems and mailboxes.

The Football Leaks website was launched in 2015, and has since been suspended. Portuguese prosecutors allege that it used the information garnered through unauthorised access to computer systems and mailboxes to publish confidential information including transfer values; agreements between sporting bodies; sporting contracts; and player agent information. 

Prosecutors name Sporting Clube de Portugal; the Portuguese football federation (FPF), the PLMJ law firm; and the office of Portugal’s Attorney General as damaged parties. They allege that documents obtained from such bodies are subject to judicial secrecy, client confidentiality, and trade secrets agreements. They allege that accessing such documents also represented a violation of data protection legislation.

‘Given the extent of these infringements and the fact that further steps are still being taken to access the encrypted information contained in seized devices, it was decided to issue a warrant for further invesiation’, continues the Portuguese Prosecutors’ statement. ‘Accordingly, the Hungarian authorities were requested and accepted in due course to extend the execution of the European Arrest Warrant, resulting in the arrest of one of the defendants [Pinto] who was handed over to the national authorities. The main defendant [Pinto] is in pre-trial detention, a measure of coercion that the prosecutor understands must be maintained. The second defendant is subject to house arrest.’

The documents published by Football Leaks have led to allegations that UEFA paid money designated for the Ukrainian football association (FFU) into an offshore account controlled by a club owner; that Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain pressured UEFA into settlement agreements so that they would not be found in violation of Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play (CLFFP) Regulations; and more. At the end of last year, Switzerland appointed a Special Prosecutor to investigate allegations of impropriety regarding links between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Rinaldo Arnold, a Senior Prosecutor for Haut-Valais, following information published by Football Leaks. The investigation has grown to encompass Michael Lauber, Switzerland’s Attorney General.

You may also like...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This