Lionel Messi Charity Reportedly Faces Fraud Investigation from Madrid Prosecutor

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2015

Barcelona's Lionel Messi from Argentina, gestures during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between RC Celta and FC Barcelona, at the Balaídos stadium in Vigo, Spain, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Lalo R. Villar)
Lalo R. Villar/Associated Press

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is reportedly facing an investigation after the public prosecution office in Madrid "discovered indications of fraud" from charity friendly matches.  

According to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, a charity that bears Messi's name generated income from two matches in 2012 and 2013, with both fixtures alleged to be part-organised by one of Mexico's largest drug cartels, per AS.

The report adds that both matches were "under the spotlight" for an alleged attachment to drug-trafficking rings, but a witness has proclaimed drug cartel "Los Valencia" were involved in them.

The matches in question took place in Lima, Peru, and Chicago. These latest reports come just days after Messi's Barcelona and Argentina team-mate, Javier Mascherano, was charged with tax fraud, per Reuters (via the Guardian):

The Guardian @guardian

Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano charged with tax fraud by Spanish authorities http://t.co/IrB6ygVKDE via @guardian_sport

The AS report adds that the public prosecutor has requested all documentation relating to the two fixtures be sent to the city of Barcelona "for further investigation."

Earlier this year, Jose Antonio Hernandez of Spanish newspaper El Pais confirmed that Guillermo Marin, who organised a series of friendly matches in 2012 and 2013, said the Leo Messi Foundation received $50,000 for each game.

That report also states money earned from those matches was deposited in foreign bank accounts in Curacao, while there were also suspicions money had been sent to an account in Hong Kong.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Marin is reported to have organised concerts in Spain that authorities believe were "used to help launder money for a Colombian drug cartel," according to El Pais, similar to the accusations now being lobbied in relation to Messi's charity.