Paris: Disgraced FIFA officials, suspended UEFA chief Michel Platini and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi were amongst the names found on Sunday in leaked documents which reveal offshore financial dealings.
Lionel Messi and Michel Platini
The 11 million leaked records from the files of Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm, include the names of 20 high-profile footballers. The most high-profile of all is Argentina star Messi.
The Barcelona forward and his father Jorge are already due to stand trial in May charged with tax fraud for allegedly failing to declare 4.16 million euros ($4.69 million) in taxes related to his image rights between 2007 and 2009 through front companies in Belize and Uruguay.
Messi denies charges
Meanwhile, the family of Messi denied that he was involved in tax evasion. "The Messi family wants to make clear that Messi has not carried out any of acts attributed to him and accusations of tax evasion plot, including a network of money-laundering, are false and insulting," it said in a statement.. The ICIJ said the documents also allege that Platini turned to Mossack Fonseca to help him administer an offshore company created in Panama in 2007.
Platini's communications service said that his entire financial records and properties had been made known to the Swiss authorities since 2007. It was made clear that any defamatory comments published could lead to legal action.
'The Panama Papers' claim the law firm of a FIFA ethics watchdog had business relationships with three men indicted in football's corruption scandal. Documents also bring to light how some players use offshore companies to bank money from image rights deals.