In 2015, the father and son were put on trial, which culminated in the 2016 "guilty" ruling. Lionel and Jorge were to pay 2 and 1.5 million euros fines, respectively, and received a 21-month prison sentence each. Messi is, however, unlikely to find himself behind the bars.
The Panama Papers revealed the existence of Mega Star Enterprises, the company that was set up to benefit Lionel and Jorge Messi and seemed to have slipped unnoticed by the Spanish prosecutors. Mega Star Enterprises was established in 2012, outside of the time period covered by the Spanish investigation.
Messi is only one of the soccer celebrities put under scrutiny due to the Panama leak, even though his may be the biggest name.
The international soccer authority entered 2016 already shaken by the 2015 corruption case, initiated by the US prosecutors. Numerous FIFA officials were accused of money laundering, fraud and taking bribes. Sepp Blatter, the president of the association, was removed from the office and subsequently banned from participating in any FIFA activities for eight years. The latter sentence was reduced to six years in February.
The International Federation of Football Association (FIFA) had a difficult 2015, but any hopes to catch a break in 2016 vanished with the latest revelations.
The leaked documents showed that Juan Pedro Damiani, one of the committee’s members, was tied to Eugenio Figueredo, a former FIFA vice president, who had been charged by US authorities with fraud and money laundering, arrested in Switzerland and then, facing the choice between extradition to the United States and Uruguay, sent, at his request, to Uruguay.
Damiani and his company appeared to have been working for the offshore companies linked to Figueredo as well as Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, also allegedly involved in the 2015 corruption case.
While Damiani’s actions are not illegal, they may discredit him in the eyes of the ethics committee, which confirmed it was examining the new facts. Damiani resigned from the committee in April.
The Panama Papers also provided additional information related to the FIFA officials already under investigation by the United States and businessmen said to be involved in it.