Written by Staff Writer
03 Jun, 2016 | 10:50 am
Soccer superstar Lionel Messi, regarded by many as one of the most talented players in the history of the game, is in court with his father to answer tax fraud charges.
Messi denied having knowledge of the tax issues that led to fraud charges against him and said that he signed documents without reading them because he trusted his father and the advisers responsible for managing his finances.
Messi, one of the world’s highest-paid athletes and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, have been charged with three counts of tax fraud. They could be sentenced to nearly two years in prison if found guilty of defrauding Spain’s tax authority of €4.1 million ($4.5 million) from 2007-09.
The Spanish tax authorities also allege that €10.1m earned by Messi through image rights was secreted in a network of shell companies between 2007 and 2009 in order to avoid paying tax.
Because of the trial, the Barcelona player has missed part of Argentina’s preparations for the Copa America Centenario.
Messi was also being investigated by Spanish tax authorities after his name was among those released in the probe of international offshore accounts sparked by a leak of documents known as the Panama Papers, although he has not been charged in relation to those revelations.
The trial is expected to end on Friday, and the verdict and sentencing are expected next week.
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