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From Tendulkar to Messi — Sportspersons whose name got involved with secret financial dealings

The latest revelations of the Pandora Papers have surprised many with the name of Sachin Tendulkar being involved. Here we look at the instances of other world-renowned sportpersons.

From Tendulkar to Messi — Sportspersons whose name got involved with secret financial dealings

The Bridge Desk

Published: 4 Oct 2021 2:23 PM GMT

The latest revelations of the Pandora Papers have opened a can of worms unmasking an extraordinary proportion of wealth being secretly held by global leaders, politicians and billionaires. The papers are being touted as one of the biggest journalistic alliance culminated in a collection of millions of leaked documents and a report published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on October 3.

As per the report, the Pandora Papers contain information on over 330 political leaders from 91 countries, as well as a global list of con men, fugitives and murderers.

The papers disclose details of the financial dealings of world leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

However, a name that turned surprised Indian sports fans was none other than cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar.

The investigation read, "People linked by the secret documents to offshore assets include India's cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar, pop music diva Shakira, supermodel Claudia Schiffer and an Italian mobster known as "Lell the Fat One"."

It was further mentioned, "Sports icon Sachin Tendulkar, for instance, asked for the liquidation of his entity in the British Virgin Islands just three months after the Panama Papers expose." His name has emerged as the Beneficial Owners of an offshore entity in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) which was liquidated in 2016.

Sachin, with wife Anjali Tendulkar and father-in-law Anand Mehta, as per an investigation of records of Panama law firm Alcogal which are part of Pandora Papers, are named as BOs and Directors of a BVI-based company: Saas International Limited.

Not just a legend in India, Sachin Tendulkar is one of the greatest players that cricket has ever witnessed. However, this is not the first time a sportsperson has been accused of secretly holding offshore assets. When the information on Panama Papers was leaked for the first time in 2016, it brought surprising news of secret offshore holdings by many past and present sportspersons, here's a look:

Lionel Messi

During the Panama Papers reveal, Lionel Messi, who is considered as one of the greatest footballer on earth, was accused of tax evasion with his father. A Spanish news portal En Confidential published a report on the Messi's family accusing of establishing a tax fraud network using Panamanian company Mega Star Enterprises. The footballer's father denied all allegations, and said he will be suing El Confidencial for defamation. Messi, along with his father Jorge, was found guilty of defrauding Spain of €4.1m between 2007 and 2009. His father's 15-month sentence was replaced with a €180,000 fine. The pair had been found guilty of using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights.

Gianni Infantino

Gianni Infantino (Source: FIFA)

Panama Papers revealed Fifa's president, Gianni Infantino, played in deals that were concluded when he was director of legal services at Uefa, European football's governing body. According to records, Uefa concluded offshore deals with one of the indicted figures at the heart of an alleged "World Cup of fraud" despite previously insisting it had no dealings with any of them. The emergence of the contracts from 2003 and 2006, which were co-signed by Infantino, link Uefa for the first time to one of the companies involved in the huge unfolding scandal that has brought down former Fifa president Sepp Blatter. Uefa denied any wrongdoing by any of its officials or any other marketing partner.

Tomas Berdych

Czech tennis star Tomar Berdych won an apology from the public Czech News Agency (CTK) which had alleged the world number seven's name had appeared in the Panama Papers. "We apologise to Mr Tomas Berdych for having wrongly stated… his name was given in the Panama Papers database," CTK wrote. "The name of Mr Tomas Berdych… cannot be found in the Panama Papers database," it added. Berdych was said to have invested in a solar energy firm in recent years, with the owner of that firm registering it in Panama.

Gabriel Heinze

Gabriel Hienze (Source: ESPN)

Former Argentinian footballer who once played for Manchester United was also named in the Panama Papers. It was believed that the Argentine player has created a company known as the Galena Mills Corp in the Virgin Islands in order to receive his payment from Puma. Using this offshore company allowed Gabriel Heinze to minimize the amount of tax paid and was cited in the Panama Papers. It was alleged that the former Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain player also had a bank account in Switzerland. The player defended himself by saying it was a legal thing to do as he wanted to protect his succession in case something happened to him. A legal representative for the player was quoted as saying that everything was done legally and that all taxes were paid wherever needed.

Jarno Trulli

Former Italian F1 driver Jarno Trulli, who retired in 2011 was named in Panama Papers. He became a producer of wine owning vineyards in Italy, producing his own wine and selling it part of a winemaking business in addition to other interests. It emerged that some of his businesses were registered in Panama. However, Trulli maintained he was innocent.

Nico Rosberg

Former F1 champion Nico Rosberg was one of the few F1 'heads' that showed up in Panama Papers. ARD stated that the contract between the 2014 and 2015 world Formula One vice-champion Nico Rosberg and Mercedes was drawn by 'Ambitious Group Limited', a company based in the British Virgin Islands that belonged to some other companies based in Jersey (the Channel Islands) and was conducted by the law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Michel Platini

Michel Platini (Source: AFP)

Former UEFA President Michel Platini was formally placed under investigation in Switzerland in relation to a $2 million (£1.62 million/€1.78 million) payment he received from FIFA in 2011. It came as part of a wider corruption case against former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, with Swiss prosecutors extending its criminal proceedings to include Blatter's role in the payment to Platini, according to The Associated Press. The Frenchman was an accomplice to criminal mismanagement, of misappropriation and forgery. It was reported that the former France national team captain had invoiced FIFA in January 2011 seeking payment for a uncontracted additional salary from working as a presidential adviser in Blatter's first term from 1998 to 2002 - and he was paid the next month. Platini has had five different courts and tribunals rule against him since the Swiss prosecutors revealed the allegation in September 2015, including the FIFA Ethics Committee, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the European Court of Human Rights.

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