The family of Lionel Messi has rejected accusations based on a leak from a Panama-based law firm that the FC Barcelona footballer stashed money in an offshore company in the South American country.
On Sunday, a massive leak of 11.5 million documents from Mossack Fonseca, one of the world's biggest and most secretive offshore law firms, implicated political leaders, sports stars and criminals around the world in hiding their money using offshore tax havens.
The accusation that FIFA's 2015 world player of the year used a company in Panama to evade taxes is "false and offensive," the Messi family said Monday in a statement quoted by Spain's state news agency Efe.
In connection with the so-called Panama Papers leak, several Spanish media outlets alleged that Messi and his father Jorge Messi used a company in Panama to hide earnings from financial authorities.
The Messi family denied the allegation, saying that the company that has been linked to the footballer is completely inactive.
"It never had credit or bank accounts at its disposal," the family said of the company.
According to the family statement, Messi had declared all income that he made before and after the initiation of tax proceedings against him and his father.
Beginning on May 31, Messi and his father are due in court on prior allegations of tax evasion. According to the charges, the father and son dodged approximately 4.1 million euros (4.7 million dollars) in taxes between 2007 and 2009.
The star footballer has said in prior testimony that his father had tended to all business-related matters, which Jorge Messi confirmed.
Though state prosecutors moved to cease proceedings against Messi and only move forward with charges against his father, Spain's tax office insisted that the footballer also face charges.
FC Barcelona issued its support for Messi in a statement on its website: "The club trusts the arguments made public today in a statement by the Messi family" and added it had offered all legal, fiscal and administrative means of assistance that Messi required in the face of the allegations.
Messi's attorneys are considering whether they can take legal action against media outlets that circulated the suspicions, according to the Efe report.
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