The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Football Leaks hacker accused of blackmailing Malta-based investment fund Doyen Sports

Sunday, 24 March 2019, 08:30 Last update: about 4 years ago

Rui Pinto, the Portuguese hacker linked to the Football Leaks whistleblower website, made his first appearance before a judge in Lisbon on Friday.

Pinto is suspected of hacking Doyen Sports, an investment fund based in Malta, at the heart of the Football Leaks scandal. He also stands accused of asking Doyen for as much as €1 million to stop him publishing compromising documents he had retrieved on the internet and of having hacked Sporting, a Lisbon football club.

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Although he is facing up to 10 years in prison, Pinto’s lawyers argue that he is a “very important European whistleblower”.

The 30-year-old, who was arrested in Hungary on 16 January and extradited to Portugal last Thursday, faces charges of data theft and attempted extortion.

His appearance in court on Friday was to allow the judge to decide what judicial measure to apply.

Pinto’s lawyer, Francisco Teixeira da Mota, would not say if his client intended to answer questions from the judge or remain silent.

Starting in 2015, Pinto allegedly hacked millions of files in order, he said, to reveal the football industry’s “dishonesty”. In 2016, he shared four terabytes of data with a European media consortium which then published the Football Leaks, revealing tax evasion and possible fraud and corruption involving star players and big leaders.

When he was arrested in Budapest, Pinto said that he had six more terabytes of unpublished documents. According to the Portuguese press, the Hungarian authorities passed that data on to Portugal.

“I was collaborating with the French authorities, starting a collaboration with Swiss authorities and probably going to start another European collaboration, and suddenly Portugal sabotaged everything,” he said.

The lawyer for a Portuguese man linked to the publication of internal documents that embarrassed top European clubs and football officials in the Football Leaks case says Pinto is suspected of attempted extortion, illegal access to data and other alleged crimes connected to the release of secret information about the financial dealings of clubs.

Doyen Sports Investments Limited, also known as Doyen Sports, is a Malta-based subsidiary of the hedge fund Doyen Group. Doyen Sports was founded in 2011, its principal activity being to provide alternative funding directly to football clubs via structured finance.

MaltaToday reported last Sunday that Doyen  had been fined €23,000 for a breach of the Financial Institutions Act. The Malta Financial Services Authority said Doyen Sports Investments had conducted lending activities without having the necessary licence.

The company may still appeal against the decision before the Financial Services Tribunal.

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