Messi’s family denies ‘Panama Papers’ tax evasion claim

Barcelona, April 5 (IANS) The family of FC Barcelona’s Argentine star Lionel Messi has stressed it has never used the services of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to escape tax scrutiny.

The law firm had 11.5 million of its documents anonymously leaked in the so-called ‘Panama Papers’ scandal on Sunday, that suggests that 140 politicians and officials from around the globe, including 72 former and current world leaders, have connections with secret “offshore” companies to escape tax scrutiny in their countries, reports Efe.

Messi’s family underlined in a statement released on Monday that it “wants to make clear that Lionel Messi has not carried out any of the acts attributed to him, and accusations he created a … tax evasion plot, including a network of money-laundering, are false and insulting.”

“The Panama Company to which they refer to is a totally inactive company that never had any funds or any open current accounts,” the statement continued.

They added that the firm was created by the family’s former tax advisers and that everything had since been brought into line where Messi’s fiscal situation was concerned.

Women’s hockey: India suffer hat-trick of losses in Hawke’s Bay Cup

Hastings (New Zealand), April 5 (IANS) India’s women’s hockey team suffered third consecutive loss in the eight-nation Hawke’s Bay Cup, losing to China 1-2 in the last pool game here on Tuesday.

Rani Rampal’s field goal put India ahead in the 19th minute but the Chinese equalised through Yu Qian in the 45th minute before ang Mengyu scored the winner from a penalty corner with five minutes left on the clock.

World No.13 India, coming into the match with two successive defeats — against New Zealand (0-1) and Ireland (0-4), came to life in the second quarter early against the fifth ranked Chinese.

Rani scored off a swiftly worked counter-attack from the right flank, giving India the lead in the 19th minute.

China immediately hit back, and won a penalty corner of their own, but goalkeeper Savita ensured India went into the break with their lead intact.

The third quarter saw resolute defending from India, as China controlled most of the possession. Monika in particular was very good at marshalling the midfield and dropping deep to deny China.

With the last play of the quarter though, China scored the equaliser through Qian.

The final quarter saw several chances fall for both teams as they tried to take full points. Deepika, took charge and had a couple of half chances that went wide of the post. Mengyu scored the winner for China through a penalty corner in the 55th minute.

“We gave a tough game today to a team that are higher ranked than us. Crucial mistakes at the end of the final quarters denied us the points. Our defence was secure, but we now need to focus on getting the ball upfield quicker to score goals,” assistant coach C.R. Kumar said in a release.

India play ninth-ranked Japan in their quarter-final on Thursday.

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