BARCELONA (Web Desk) – Megastars Jackie Chan and Lionel Messi are among the big names accused of using a controversial Panama law firm to invest their millions offshore.
However, the family of Lionel Messi denied on Tuesday that he was involved in tax evasion.
“The Messi family wants to make clear that Lionel Messi has not carried out any of the acts attributed to him, and accusations he created a…tax evasion plot, including a network of money-laundering, are false and insulting,” it said in a statement.
Barcelona published a message of support to their star player on their official website.
“The club supports the arguments which the Messi family published in a statement today,” said the Barca statement.
“Since the very first moment that the ‘Panama papers’ which accuse Leo Messi were released, FC Barcelona has sent its affection and support to the player and to his whole family.
“The Club makes all of its judicial means, fiscal and administrative, at the family’s disposal in order to make his actions and honour clear in this case.”
The scandal erupted on Monday when media groups made public a year-long worldwide investigation into a trove of 11.5 million documents leaked from a Panama-based law firm that exposed a tangle of offshore financial dealings by the elite.
Among the accused are close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson as well as sports celebrities and screen stars.
Messi and his father are named as owners of a Panama company that had not previously been disclosed during a Spanish probe into their tax affairs.
At least 20 other footballers from Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United are also said to have used Mossack Fonseca’s services to avoid tax.
Lionel Messi, who is already facing tax fraud charges in Spain, owned a Panama company, Mega Star Enterprises Inc, with his father Jorge, leaked documents reveal.
The business, which still exists in Panama, is said to have handled millions from the Barcelona star’s image rights contracts.
Martial arts actor Jackie Chan is also named in the leaked documents as having at least six offshore companies managed through the law firm.
India’s biggest Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan – known as ‘Big B’ – was a director of at least four offshore shipping companies.
As names of clients continue to emerge, it has been revealed that many millionaire footballers have been funnelling cash to offshore havens with the help of Mossack Fonseca.
Premier League star Leonardo Ullua, who was Leicester City’s top scorer last year, was named in documents after an associate used the law firm in 2008 while he was playing in Argentina.
Argentine full back Gabriel Heinze set up a British Virgin Islands (BVi) company in 2005 in the same year he signed a $1million boot contract with Puma while playing for Manchester United.
Former Real Madrid and Chile star striker Ivan Zamorano, once voted in the greatest 100 players of all time, had a business in the BVI, where businesses pay no tax on profits.
Michel Platini allegedly turned to Mossack Fonseca to help him administer an offshore company created in Panama in 2007.
Platini is serving a six-year ban from all football-related activity for an ethics breach after former FIFA president Sepp Blatter approved a $2 million payment to the Frenchman in 2011 for consultancy work done without a contract a decade earlier.