Corruption in Portugal: Porto headquarters was taken over by the Prosecutor’s Office and police agents

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FC Porto supporters cheer on their team before the start of a UEFA Champions League match.

Photo: MIGUEL RIOPA / . / .

The Public Ministry of Portugal and police agents searched this Monday the offices of FC Porto in the framework of the “Red Card” operation to clarify possible tax crimes, involving commission payment operations of more than 20 million euros.

The Public Ministry has confirmed in a statement that 33 registrations have been made on this day, “mainly in Porto and Lisbon”, where corporate premises have been covered, including a sports corporation and a banking institution, as well as several residences.

Although the Public Ministry has not identified the affected sports club, local media point out that it is about Porto.

The investigation, in charge of the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority and with the collaboration of the Public Security Police (PSP), operates under the suspicion of “practice of crimes of tax fraud, fraud, breach of trust and money laundering, related to transfers of footballers and financial circuits that involve intermediaries in these businesses ”.

The facts that investigated are from 2017 to the present, which the Portuguese authority has alleged are of a “strong international dimension.”

In this process, commission payment operations of more than 20 million of euros.

In these operations 85 people have participated in the Tax Inspection, of the PSP and magistrates of the Public Ministry.

The Public Ministry has indicated that the investigation is under summary secrecy.

According to the Portuguese magazine “Saturday”, registers are also being carried out on businessmen Alexandre Pinto da Costa (son of the president of Porto, Jorgen Nuno Pinto da Costa) and Pedro Pinho.

Operation Red Card came to light when in early July The then president of Benfica, Luís Filipe Vieira, was arrested, for suspicions of tax fraud and money laundering, among other possible crimes, to clarify possible fraudulent deals of more than 100 million euros.

Days later, on July 15, the Portuguese newspaper “Público” disclosed that the Portuguese Prosecutor’s Office was investigating possible fraud in commissions for the sale of Éder Militão to Real Madrid, which was sold by Porto to the Spanish team.

In the spotlight, according to “Public”, two agents: Bruno Macedo, one of the four Portuguese arrested in Operation “Red Card” who forced the president of Benfica, Luís Filipe Vieira to resign; and the Brazilian Giuliano Bertolucci.

In August 2018, the Porto bought 90% of Militão’s rights from São Paulo for 8.5 million and in March 2019 Real Madrid bought 100% of the rights for 50 million, from which Porto benefited 38.16 million euros.

However, a 21% of the amount that the Porto entered went to the two intermediaries, according to the same source.

Besides, also is under suspicion, according to the newspaper, the first purchase operation, when Porto acquired Militão.

In July, that same newspaper revealed that in the Militão operation Pedro Pinho, a businessman closely linked to the Porto president, would have come into play, Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa.

Pinho was also a partner of Alexandre Pinto da Costa, son of the current Porto president, through a company also related to football.

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