Leaked files show offshore dealings

Updated: 2016-04-05 08:52

By Agence France Presse In Paris(China Daily)

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Disgraced FIFA officials, suspended UEFA chief Michel Platini and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi were among the names found on Sunday in leaked documents that reveal offshore financial dealings.

The "Panama Papers" claim the law firm of a FIFA ethics watchdog had business relationships with three men recently indicted in soccer's global corruption scandal.

Documents also bring to light how some players use offshore companies to bank money from marketing deals.

The findings are the result a year-long investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and other media outlets.

The records show a law firm belonging to Juan Pedro Damiani, a member of FIFA's Independent Ethics Committee, did work for offshore companies linked to Eugenio Figueredo, a former FIFA vice-president who has been indicted in the US on wire fraud and money laundering charges.

"The records do not show illegal conduct by Damiani or his law firm, but they do raise new questions for Damiani and FIFA," said the report issued by the ICIJ.

A spokesman for the ethics panel told the ICIJ that Damiani had informed the committee in March that he has had business ties to Figueredo.

However, the panel has launched an investigation into Damiani's relationship with Figueredo.

Through a spokesman, Damiani told the ICIJ he was not authorized to make statements while officials in Uruguay are investigating allegations of corruption related to FIFA.

"He added, however, that he taken a lead in reporting corrupt practices within FIFA to Uruguayan authorities and to the soccer organization's ethics committee," said the report.

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 and Barcelona star Messi.

Messi and his father, Jorge, are already due to stand trial in May charged with tax fraud for allegedly failing to declare $4.69 million in taxes related to his image rights between 2007 and 2009 through front companies in Belize and Uruguay.

The pair is accused of ceding the player's image rights to the companies in order to avoid declaring money made from lucrative deals with sponsors in Spain.

The ICIJ said the documents also allege Platini 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 soccer-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.

Leaked files show offshore dealings

(China Daily 04/05/2016 page22)