Argentine football superstar, Lionel Messi, who currently plays for Barcelona, faces Spanish tax fraud charges alongside his father, to the sum of €4 million euros (£3.4 million).
Officials say that the 25-year-old Argentine forward and his father, Jorge Horacio, are suspected of filing fraudulent tax returns for 2007-2009.
His salary from playing at Barcelona is said to be some €16 million a year, which makes him one of the world’s highest paid athletes.
A complaint was filed at the courthouse by prosecutor Raquel Amado on Wednesday. Judges at the courthouse have to accept the complaint before the suspects can be charged.
Messi and his father are accused of three crimes of defrauding the state of taxes related to income from the use of his image.
They have been suspected of using overseas companies in Belize and Uruguay through which to sell rights to use the image.
According to reports, the accusation is that with the help of these firms based outside of Spain, where Messi lives and plays club football, he and his father avoided paying more than €4 million euros in tax.
Spain’s EFE news agency has reported that if convicted, Messi could face up to six years in prison and a large fine.
In response to these allegations Messi was surprised and wrote on his Facebook page:
“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.”
- Football star Lionel Messi accused of €4m tax fraud (thetimes.co.uk)
- Lionel Messi Accused Of Tax Fraud In Spain (news.sky.com)