KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Benfica have offered all possible help to the Portuguese authorities after the arrest of a man alleged to have undertaken a massive hacking attack on football in general and the record champions in particular.

Rui Pedro Goncalves Pinto, who has been detained in Budapest in an extradition warrent from Portugal, is suspected of being behind not only a concentrated infiltration of Benfica’s electronic documentation but of contributing significantly to the so-called Football Leaks revelations about the international transfer system.

Eagles of Lisbon . . . Benfica were European champions twice in the 1960s

A club statement from Benfica said: “[The club] respects and will closely follow the progress of the process [and] will provide all possible assistance to the discovery of the truth and motivation which that may have been behind a crime that caused, and continues to cause,so much damage to Benfica.”

The Attorney General’s office indicated that investigations were under way into possible crimes of extortion, illegal data access and breach of confidentiality.

Bank fraud

Rui Pinto first came to the attention of the authorities seven years when he embezzled €270,000 from the accounts of clients of a Cayman Islands back. He negotiated his release by promising to return most of the money to the bank which did not want to bring charges to avoid publicity.

Subsequently he left Portugal for Hungary from where, by his own lawyers’ admission, he turned his hacking attentions to the world of football including Benfica, neighbours Sporting Clube and the Doyen football investment group.

A statement from Pinto’s lawyers ascribed to him revelations from the Football Leaks website which sparked inquiries by UEFA into the true financial status of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain in the context of the European federation’s financial fair play regulations.

Up to 70 million documents have been provided by Football Leaks and more than 3.4 terabytes of information shared by media outlets in the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC).

Pinto will apparently resist extradition on the grounds of protections available under European law to whistleblowers.

Lawyers’ statement:

The undersigned lawyers are the counsels of Mr Rui Pedro GONÇALVES PINTO, a very great European whistle-blower and part of the “Football Leaks”. Mr Rui Pedro GONÇALVES PINTO had recently met his French lawyer prior to his arrest. He is a young Portuguese football lover who, because he is disgusted by the practices of which he has gradually become aware, has decided to reveal to the world the extent of the criminal practices that not only affect the community of football players, but also seriously damage its image.

It is indeed the FOOTBALL LEAKS revelations which have been at the origin of the publication, for several years, of decisive information, at the origin of the opening of many investigations by media and authorities, in France and in many European countries. Mr Rui Pedro GONÇALVES PINTO was able to indicate to his lawyers how he had been, throughout this period, threatened, many agencies having put at the service of various players in the world of football to try to silence him by any means.

It appears that DOYEN SPORTS INVESTMENTS LIMITED filed a complaint in Portugal. According to the information in possession, the lawyers consider that the Portuguese authorities appear to have rushed, completely taken over, all the allegations, from the company of plaintiff agents. It is also with the same rush that it seems that the arrest warrant was executed even though the Hungarian authorities had only recently been seized of a request for a European inquiry.

The acceleration of the procedure does not fail to pose a number of questions to which precise answers must be given. In any event, the undersigned lawyers, together with their colleagues in Budapest, will oppose the request for extradition. They recall in particular the incredible paradox that results from the attempt of criminalization of their client whereas in fact of its citizen gesture and its revelations, it allowed the numerous European judicial authorities an historical acceleration in the knowledge, of the criminal practices of the world of football.

The undersigned lawyers underline to what extent their client meets all the criteria for the protection of whistleblowers as resulting from the latest provisions of European law and from many European countries. There is a retrograde world, which intends to be able to take advantage of the exceptional attraction for the football to maintain in the opacity of the practices seriously contrary to the law. It is this world that is at the origin of the persecutions initiated against their client.

It is also because of the status of the very large whistleblower of their client that the French-American foundation, The Signals Network, has recently brought its full and entire support.

(Sgd) Maître William Bourdon and Maitre Francisco Teixera da Mota, lawyers of Rui Pedro Goncalves Pinto.