A court in Barcelona is set to hear charges brought against Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi (who manages all his financial affairs) on counts of using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal €10.1m earned in image rights from 2007 to 2009. The two of them have denied the charges.
The football star will go on trial today on charges of defrauding Spain of €4.1m (£3m) in unpaid taxes. Spain’s tax agency is making demands of payment of a fine equivalent of €4.1m and a sentence of 22 months and 15 days for both Lionel Messi and his father.
Although the case is built mostly around the alleged unlawful activities of Messi’s father, authorities claim that the football star knows enough to be named in the case.
Previous charges brought had actually been dropped on account of the five-time winner of the Fifa Ballon d’Or having little personal involvement in his own finances. The trial which is expected to last a total of three days, should see Messi testifying on Thursday.
Lionel Messi has continued in his insistence that he has no knowledge of his financial dealings, a claim which his father has backed up, stating; “The only thing my son does is play football.”
A judge had questioned Messi in 2013 on this note and he had replied;
“I sign contracts but I never look at them. I don’t know what I’m signing. I trust my father who takes care of these things. I do what he tells me to do. I only look at the summary at the end of the year to see what I’ve made.”
Forbes magazine puts his earnings for 2015 at $74m (£51m); with him earning $52m as a player and $22m in endorsement deals. Lionel Messi has already paid €5m to the tax agency, with another €10m to account for his situation for 2010 and 2011.
Since the sentence demanded is less than two years and he has no criminal record, there is little likelihood of Messi going to prison.