Lionel Messi Caught Cheating? Faces Three Counts of Tax Fraud

Wikimedia/ Christopher Johnson

Barcelona has expressed solidarity with the star player, after Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge, got calls from Spanish Prosecutors to be tried on three counts of tax fraud, the ESPN FC reported.

Both Messi Sr. and Jr. are accused of defrauding Spain’s tax office of $4.5 million during 2007-2009 and the state attorney demands a 22 month jail sentence, as per the court documents. Messi and his father had earlier made voluntary “corrective payment” of €5 million in taxes to the Spain tax office in August 2013. The state prosecutors allege that Jorge has tried avoiding taxes on his son’s earnings in 2007-09 by using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay, as per ESPN FC.

Messi is currently out due to an injury and is expected to return before El Classico against Real Madrid in November.

Both of them have denied any wrong doing on their part. The El Pais newspaper notes that his lawyers made an argument, stating, “the player had never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analyzing” contracts.

According to reports, the judge presiding over the case had rejected any plea considering Messi immune to any of the charges filed against him. Messi has always maintained that he is not involved in any of his financial transactions or his contract revenues, and of all his finances were partly handled by his father, Jorge.

The BBC notes, “The income related to Messi’s image rights, including contracts with Banco Sabadell, Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter and Gamble, and the Kuwait Food Company.”

One of the richest athletes in the world, Messi was being considered by the state attorneys to get him exonerated of any charges but the Tax agency thinks otherwise. The Courts had ruled in favour of the appeal stating that lack of financial network on Messi’s behalf does not mean “impunity for someone who stands to benefit from such tax fraud designed by others.”

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