Argentina’s superstar Lionel Messi and his father will be prosecuted by Spanish authorities for allegedly underreporting earnings and evading taxes. The player denies any wrongdoing and is prepared to defend himself and his family.
The decision by a Spanish judge, to push forward with tax evasion charges against Messi — who is considered the best player in the world — comes even though the public prosecutor recommended the charges be dismissed. In June Messi’s lawyers argued that Lionel Messi’s father, Jorge, not the player, was responsible for the family finances.
However, the Barcelona court argued the four-times Ballon d’Or winner could have known of his father’s dealings and approved of them. The charges allege that the Messi and his father created a network of companies to avoid paying taxes on income from image rights.The judge decided to proceed with the charges against both men.
In 2013 Spanish prosecutors accused Lionel and Jorge Messi of defrauding the state of $5.39 million in tax income, by filing false returns between 2006 and 2009. Father and son deny any wrongdoing in the case.
On June 12, 2013 Lionel Messi made a statement via his Facebook page concerning the tax evasion allegations:
“We have just known through the media about the claim filed by the Spanish tax authorities. We are surprised about those news, because we have never committed any infringement. We have always fulfilled all our tax obligations, following the advices of our Tax Consultants who will take care of clarifying this situation.”
In a written petition to the judge in August of last year, Messi’s lawyer, Cristabal Martell, said Jorge Messi assumed full responsibility for Lionel’s tax situation, in essence attempting to distance the footballer from any direct participation. In September of 2013, Lionel Messi and his father testified separately in front of the judge and appeared relaxed, smiling at supporters, who had gathered outside the courthouse.
According to the court statements, it’s not important whether or not Lionel Messi knew the exact figures by which the pair were trying to defraud the Spanish state. Rather, what is important is that the striker knew of the fact that Jorge Messi was trying to do it.
Messi didn’t have “to have full knowledge of all accounting or corporate transactions or the exact amount of the fraud,” for him to be aware of the scheme, the court asserted on Monday. According to the AP, Lionel Messi’s father paid over $6 million in back taxes in August 2013, including penalties.
What do you think of the case against Lionel Messi for tax evasion?
[Image via Twitter]