Three politicians named in ‘Pandora Papers’ leak

  • Lusa
  • 4 October 2021

The new investigation by ICIJ, dubbed "Pandora Papers", has uncovered the "financial secrets" of 35 current and former world leaders and more than 330 politicians and civil servants in 91 countries.

The new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists identifies three Portuguese politicians with “financial secrets”, politicians that the weekly newspaper Expresso said were Manuel Pinho, Nuno Morais Sarmento and Vitalino Canas.

The new investigation by the consortium (ICIJ), dubbed “Pandora Papers”, has uncovered the “financial secrets” of 35 current and former world leaders and more than 330 politicians and civil servants in 91 countries and territories including Portugal.

According to the Expresso newspaper, which is part of the consortium, the three Portuguese involved (the number can be confirmed on the map available at are former ministers Nuno Morais Sarmento (PSD) and Manuel Pinho (PS) and former socialist member of parliament Vitalino Canas.

Research carried out by Expresso reveals that Nuno Morais Sarmento, currently vice-president of the PSD, was the beneficiary of an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands that was used to buy a diving school and a hotel in Mozambique; Vitalino Canas had power of attorney granted to act on behalf of a company, also registered in the British Virgin Islands, to open accounts in Macau. Manuel Pinho was the beneficiary of three offshore companies and transferred his money to one of them to buy a flat in New York.

Nuno Morais Sarmento, a lawyer, was a minister in the governments of Durão Barroso and Santana Lopes; Vitalino Canas, a lawyer, was a socialist MP between 2002 and 2019, secretary of state in the governments of António Guterres and PS spokesman during the leadership of José Sócrates. Manuel Pinho, an economist who was a director of BES, was minister of the economy between 2005 and 2009 in the Sócrates government and is currently a professor at Columbia University in the United States.

Lusa tried to contact Manuel Pinho and Nuno Morais Sarmento, but this has not been possible so far. Vitalino Canas said he had provided clarification to Expresso but had nothing further to add.

The three Portuguese nationals on the Pandora Papers list have provided explanations to Expresso. Morais Sarmento justifies access to an offshore company with the “limitations” on foreigners at the time in Mozambique, Manuel Pinho says he has “no undeclared income to declare to the tax authorities anywhere”, and Vitalino Canas said that the case falls under the practice of law “under Portuguese law.

On the ICIJ investigation map, another 19 Portuguese-speaking politicians are identified, nine in Angola, nine in Brazil and one in Mozambique.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a new report today in which it reveals that 14 active world leaders hid fortunes worth billions of dollars to avoid paying taxes.

In addition, 21 leaders who are no longer in power have also concealed property and income.

Among the names named in the investigation are King Abdallah II of Jordan, the Presidents of Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and more than 130 billionaires (mentioned by Forbes magazine) from countries such as Russia, the United States and Turkey, as well as celebrities, religious leaders, members of royal families or drug traffickers and professional crooks.

The investigation reveals “the inner workings of an underground economy that benefits the richest and most influential at the expense of everyone else”.

The investigation denounces that “many of the powerful actors who could help end the tax haven system are instead benefiting from it – hiding assets in shell companies and funds, while their governments do little to slow the global flow of illicit money that enriches criminals and impoverishes nations.”

The ICIJ – which in 2016 published the “Panama Papers” on financial havens – says it based this new investigation on an “unprecedented leak” involving some two million documents, worked on by 600 journalists, the “largest partnership in the history of journalism”.

Journalists, technology and time was the trio needed to analyse the millions of documents for more than a year.