Portugal: Government approves anti-corruption strategy on eve of hacker’s trial

Portugal’s government on Thursday approved for public discussion its National Strategy to Combat Corruption for the period 2020-2024, which it said identifies priorities and proposes measures to reduce the phenomenon in the country.

“This strategy, which resulted from the reflection of the working group set up for this purpose, identifies the priorities for reducing the phenomenon of corruption in Portugal, including: improving knowledge, training and institutional practices on transparency and integrity, preventing and detecting the risks of corruption in the public sector, strengthening the link between public and private institutions and producing and disseminating reliable information on a regular basis on the phenomenon of corruption,” the government said in a statement released after the cabinet meeting at which the document was approved.

According to the statement, besides recognising the need to adjust some aspects of the system to prevent and punish corruption, the government considers “it essential to strengthen and enhance the mechanisms for prevention and detection of … corruption and related crimes.”

Full details of the strategy, expected to address the issue of the status of whistleblowers, were to be unveiled later on Thursday by the minister of justice, Francisca van Dunem.

At the end of last year, by order of the minister, an expert working group was created to draw up and table measures to combat corruption, with members who include law professors, representatives of the judiciary, members of the Council for the Prevention of Corruption and leading police investigators.

The resulting strategy has now been approved by the government on the eve of the start of the trial of Rui Pinto, the computer hacker who founded the Football Leaks platform, putting into the public domain information about a series of alleged frauds and suspect financial transactions linked to leading football clubs.

Pinto, 31, who was last year extradited to his native Portugal from Hungary, before being held in custody on remand for more than a year, is now free and under police protection, after agreeing to collaborate with police in investigating a range of white-collar crimes. He has already collaborated with the authorities in other European countries.

The hacker is facing 90 charges including 68 of undue access and 14 of violation of mail, as well as computer sabotage and attempted extortion of Doyen Sports, a leading football agency.