Police and tax inspectors have carried out a court-ordered search at a casino attached to the hotel that is preparing to host the wedding of Lionel Messi, authorities said, though they denied any connection with the coming nuptials.
The Wednesday raid at the City Center hotel and casino complex in Rosario, Argentina, was authorised by federal judge Marcelo Baylaque amid an investigation of alleged tax evasion by magnate Cristobal Lopez.
Messi’s wedding to longtime partner Antonella Roccuzzo is set to take place on Friday at the same complex, but officials said the attached hotel was not part of the raid.
“We are working exclusively with the casino,” said Carlos Vaudagna, the regional director of the Federal Administration of Public Revenue, told EFE. “The hotel is not involved and this will not affect Friday’s event in any way.
“It was just a coincidence that we came a few days prior [to the wedding], we had the judicial request a month ago but were just granted permission now.”
Vaudagna also said he estimated that authorities would have seized all they needed for the probe by the end of the day and would not disturb the wedding preparations.
Judge Juan Galvan Greenway is in charge of the case, which is related to alleged kickbacks for public works projects and an alleged $1.8m in money laundering.
“We came to seize video monitoring tape related to subjects who we believe in 2015 received financial gain or earnings of more than $6,000 in daily [casino] winnings,” Vaudagna said.
He said that one bettor reportedly won more than 48 times, with more than $100,000 in winnings. Another casino in Buenos Aires as well as a racetrack had also been raided last week as part of the probe.
Lopez was indicted on corruption-related charges last year along with 16 others as part of an ongoing probe into the finances of the administration under Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the former president of Argentina from 2007-15.