Lionel Messi Denies Tax Leak Documents Involvement, Threatens Legal Action
Apr 05, 2016 12:38 AM EDT
Football star Lionel Messi and his family have released a statement regarding the Panama Papers investigation and their involvement. They have denied the allegations and have threatened legal action over the supposed documents.
According to Sport, the Barcelona forward and his father are accused of setting up a tax fraud network using their offshore company called Mega Star Enterprises in Panama. The statement released by the family says that the news released by several media outlets holding Messi responsible of the creation of a company related to tax fraud are not true. The family wants to clear their name citing that the athlete has not "carried out any of the actions he is accused of." They called the accusations of tax fraud and money laundering offensive.
They did acknowledge that they have the company but it has not opened current accounts and is inactive. It was once structured by the previous financial advisers of the Messi family. They also noted that all the income from the company have been declared before the Spanish Treasury, 9 News reported. The statement ended with a threat saying that the Messi family has "given instructions to their lawyers to analyze eventual legal action against the sources that have published these claims."
In a separate case, Messi and his father have been charged with three counts of tax fraud in Spain. The two could be sentenced to almost two years in prison if found guilty, ESPN FC reported. The two are accused of defrauding Spain's tax office of $4.4 million from 2007 to 2009 regarding unpaid taxes. Due to this, the Spanish tax agency is now closely investigating the information published about the Panama Papers.
Other people named in the Panama papers are the aides of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the relatives of Chinese president Xi Jinping. Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and his wife were also named in the documents.
Ramon Fonseca, a co-founder of the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca where the documents came from, said the papers are authentic and were illegally obtained by hackers.