Football hacker claims responsibility for Isabel dos Santos leaks
A Portuguese hacker at the centre of the biggest information leak in world football has claimed responsibility for also providing the trove of documents that this month rocked the business empire of Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman.
Rui Pinto, a Portuguese national currently awaiting trial over the hacking of information from Europe’s top football teams, supplied the documents — published this month — that revealed some of the structures used by Ms dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president, to amass her $2b fortune, an African whistleblowing organisation said on Monday.
Mr Pinto, founder of the Football Leaks website, was a whistleblower who “wanted to expose activities that are illegal or contrary to public interest”, the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa, also known as PPLAAF, said.
According to the International Consortium of Journalists, which published the Angola leaks, the documents shared by Mr Pinto show how Ms dos Santos used her position as the president’s daughter and chair of the state oil company, Sonangol, to loot the country’s resources.
Ms dos Santos has denied all wrongdoing and called the leaks and her subsequent indictment on charges of money laundering “a concentrated, orchestrated and well-co-ordinated political attack.”
Her father, José Eduardo dos Santos, stepped down as president of Angola in 2017 after 38 years in power. His successor, João Lourenço, then removed Ms dos Santos as head of Sonangol and, earlier this month, froze her assets after prosecutors said she and her husband, Congolese art collector Sindika Dokolo, failed to return more than $1bn in state funds.
PPLAAF said the fact that Mr Pinto was the source of the documents showed the leak “was not politically motivated.”
William Bourdon, Mr Pinto’s lawyer who also co-founded PPLAAF, said the documents would be of great value to prosecutors: “Like in the case of the Football Leaks, these revelations should allow for new investigations to be launched and thus help in the fight against impunity for financial crimes in Angola and in the world.”
When Mr Pinto provided documents to European journalists on the tax affairs and pay of players including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho he said he was taking aim at “illicit practices that affect the world of football”. The reporting that stemmed from the so-called Football Leaks also targeted the Portuguese premier league and Manchester City.
Mr Pinto was arrested last year and is awaiting trial in a Portuguese prison on charges including attempted extortion and illegal hacking. He denies any wrongdoing.