Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is under the scanner for his alleged involvement in using a corporation in Panama to hide his financial assets.
This latest controversy comes on the back of a tax evasion charge that was slapped on the Barcelona superstar by the Spanish authorities last year. The Argentine forward, who is already due in court with his father following the tax evasion charges, is accused by El Confidencial of setting up a tax fraud network using the Panamanian company Mega Star Enterprise to avoid paying taxes on image right deals.
According to Marca, Lionel Messi opened the Panamanian company alongside his father a day after Spanish authorities said he evaded 4.1 million euros. Documents produced by El Confidencial show the signatures of Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge Messi, in acquiring Mega Star Enterprises through an Uruguayan buffer company.
Lionel Messi has since issued a statement on the issue, denying the charges brought against him. As reported by Goal.com, the statement read: “In response to the news released by various media outlets in which Lionel Messi is held responsible for the forming of a company with the aim of ‘putting in place a new web of tax fraud’, the Messi family wishes to make it clear that Lionel Messi has not carried out any of the actions he is accused of, the accusations of having created a new web of tax fraud and, even, money laundering, are false and libellous.”
However, Messi is not the only big named football named in the leaked documents. Within the world of football, Michel Platini, ex-president of UEFA, and Ivan Zamorano, a former Real Madrid player, have also been named by ICIJ in their recent reports.
The paper trail originates from an enormous leak of over two terabytes of information from Mossack Fonseca, a company in Panama that specializes in offshore businesses. The vast stash of records was obtained from an anonymous source by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung which was subsequently analysed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).