Eurojust, the European Union agency that facilitates cooperation between EU prosectuors, had extended the invitation for a working meeting, the focus of which was on the probes into findings from Football Leaks, the largest data leak in history. But the meeting produced more controversy than expected.
Ten countries have expressed interest in the gigantic trove of data. Under the leadership of French authorities, the working meeting in The Hague had been set up to determine who and under what circumstances authorities would be permitted to work with the millions of files of data from the heart of the football industry. Investigators are hoping the information will provide evidence of serious tax evasion, collective fraud, embezzlement, corruption and money laundering.
Cluny was present as Portugal’s Eurojust representative at the press conference. And the fact that he didn’t disclose a personal conflict of interest in the course of these proceedings has been the source of significant irritation among his colleagues. Furthermore, it confirms the fears of the whistleblower who gathered the Football Leaks data. Because there are now suspicions Cluny may not be impartial.
But first things first.
Football Leaks is a raft of data that sheds light on the dirty side of the professional football business. The documents offer insights into the inner workings of numerous companies whose revenues end up taking circuitous routes through offshore countries. Financial authorities in Europe have often been kept in the dark about the nested corporate structures, but the documents reveal everything: articles of incorporation, ownership structures, payment flows, wire transfers and bank account numbers.
A source named “John” has been providing DER SPIEGEL with the data since the beginning of 2016. The newsmagazine shared more than 70 million documents with the journalist network European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) and those documents have provided the basis for more than 800 investigative articles over the past three years. The publication of the articles has led to numerous investigations and trials. Among others, Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho were slapped with suspended sentences and fines for tax fraud.
But the whistleblower behind Football Leaks is facing his own trouble with the law following his arrest in mid-January. He has since discarded his pseudonym John and revealed his real name to the public: Rui Pinto. The 30-year-old Portuguese national is now under house arrest in Budapest after Portuguese investigators issued an arrest warrant against him on suspicion of attempted extortion and cybercrime. They are demanding Pinto’s extradition to Portugal. Pinto denies the accusations and is waging a legal fight to prevent his deportation.
Antonio Cluny, the inconspicuous man at the press conference in The Hague, used to be the deputy prosecutor general of Portugal and has been representing his country’s interests at Eurojust since 2014. He said at the press conference that Portugal is also interested in analyzing the data gathered by Pinto, but he also stressed that his country would continue to insist on Pinto’s extradition.
s it turns out, Cluny did not, in fact, share critical information that has now cast doubt on his independence.
What Cluny shared neither publicly nor with his colleagues at Eurojust is that he’s the father of João Lima Cluny, a top lawyer at the Portuguese law firm Morais Leitão. The firm represents Cristiano Ronaldo, José Mourinho and many other big names in the football world who ran into trouble with the judiciary following the publication of Football Leaks documents. In his private messages, Ronaldo affectionately calls one of the firm’s partners, Carlos Osório de Castro, “father.” Osório de Castro has served as Ronaldo’s legal adviser since the beginning of the football player’s career and the Porto-based lawyer has also coordinated Ronaldo’s defense strategy for the rape allegations that have been leveled against him.
I didn’t know about the whole football leaks thing!
The Football leaks data site. You can download player contracts, see how much agents make, what kind of sponsorships there are and much much much more!