Panama have come back to haunt Lionel Messi (in a sense) as new leaks cast further suspicion over how the 30-year-old conducts his tax affairs.
In 2015, Messi, who was already under investigation in Spain over the alleged use of offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes, was revealed to own another offshore company: Mega Star Enterprises, based in Panama.
When asked about the company in April 2016, the Messi told ICIJ and partners that Mega Star was “totally inactive.” New internal e-mails leaks from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca will challenge the Barcelona man's claims.
A lawyer for the 30-year-old captain told Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, that Mega Star Enterprises was an old issue and was part of the former corporate scheme that had already been adjudicated and that the company is not being actively used.
Messi was given a 21-month suspended prison sentence for tax fraud back in July of last year and was fined €252,000 after the footballer along with his father Jorge, were found guilty of defrauding Spain of €4.1m between 2007 and 2009. As well as this, the Argentina international was fined about €2m and his father €1.5m. A voluntary €5m "corrective payment" was also made, equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest, in August 2013.
The diminutive playmaker is in action tonight as his team takes on Croatia in Group D, and while things have not been rosy for the Argentina captain on the pitch, they're not looking too hot off it either.