9th October 2015
Footballer Lionel Messi will stand trial for tax fraud in Spain alongside his father.
A judge has rejected a request by prosecutors to drop tax fraud charges against the Barcelona striker. He has been accused of defrauding the Spanish tax system of €4 million (£3 million) along with his father.
Messi (pictured) had previously tried to claim immunity from the charges on the grounds that he did not know what was happening with his finances but the Spanish courts rejected this in June.
Messi and his father continue to deny the charges in which they are alleged to have withheld money from the tax authorities between 2007 and 2009. Prosecutors allege that Messi’s father Jorge used offshore companies to avoid paying tax on the football star’s earnings.
Spanish newspaper El Pais reported Messi’s lawyers as saying he ‘never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysis’ the contracts he signed.
However, the Spanish judge said Messi should face criminal charges in court. The judge said: ‘There are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties.’
The income in question relates to Messi’s image rights and include contracts with Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Banco Sabadell, Proctor & Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company.
Messi and his father have been accused of using companies set up in Belize and Uruguay to sell the rights to the images and avoid Spanish tax.
The pair made a voluntary £4.2 million ‘corrective payment’ equal to unpaid tax plus interest in August 2013.