• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Lionel Messi to go on trial with father over €4 million tax fraud
Messi collecting his Ballon d'Or

Lionel Messi to go on trial with father over €4 million tax fraud

AFP · 20 Jan 2016, 17:00

Published: 20 Jan 2016 17:00 GMT+01:00

Barça star Lionel Messi and his father's trial for tax fraud will begin on May 31st at a court in Barcelona, a regional superior court said on Wednesday.

Messi and his father Jorge have been charged with tax fraud for allegedly failing to declare €4.16 million ($4.69 million) in taxes related to his image rights between 2007 and 2009 through front companies in Belize and Uruguay.

The pair are accused of ceding the player's image rights to the companies in order to avoid declaring money made from lucrative deals with sponsors in Spain.

Public prosecutors had asked for the case against the Argentine player to be dropped as they considered the alleged fraud was carried out by his father, who has managed his son's affairs since he was a child.   

But in October 2015 the judge in charge of the case rejected the request, writing in a court filing that "there are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties."

Lawyers acting on behalf of the tax office have asked for both defendants to be slapped with prison sentences of 22 and a half months.   

Both father and son have denied the accusations and instead blamed a former financial advisor.

Jorge Messi made a voluntary corrective payment of €5 million in August 2013 which is expected to mitigate any sentence.

Even if convicted it is unlikely that either Messi or his father would enter prison as jail terms of less than two years are usually suspended for first time offences in Spain.

The trial will run until June 3rd, the Catalan Superior Court of Justice said in a statement, which means it will not interfere with Barcelona's committment since La Liga and the Champions League will have wrapped up by then.

But it could complicate Messi's participation in the three-week centenary Copa America which gets underway on June 3rd, although Argentina's first match is on June 6th.

Story continues below…

Messi earlier this month won a record Ballon d'Or for the world's best player after helping Barcelona to a treble last season of the Champions League, La Liga and the Spanish Cup.

Last month Messi and his father were cleared of separate allegations relating to charitable friendlies played in 2012 and 2013 after a judge heard testimony from an Argentine businessman who organised the matches.   

The player had been investigated in that case to see if he had failed to declare to the tax man any revenue made from taking part in a series of friendlies in Mexico, Colombia, the United States and Peru.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Terror-wary tourists flood Spain in 2016
The most popular Spanish region was Catalonia in the northeast, home to Barcelona and its beaches. Photo: AFP

Spain saw nearly 33 million visitors to the country in the first six months of the year, an 11.7 per cent leap from 2015 as people fearful of extremist attacks seek refuge in the Iberian Peninsula.

Damaged British nuclear sub leaves Gibraltar
The submarine was submerged and carrying out a training exercise when it collided with an unspecified merchant vessel. Photo: AFP

A British nuclear submarine that collided with a merchant vessel off the coast of Gibraltar and was forced to dock in the territory left on Friday, the defence ministry said.

Beach closed after shark attack in southern Spain
Arenas del Sol beach in Elche was packed at the time. Photo: VisitElche.com

A man was bitten on the hand in a suspected shark attack at a beach on the Costa Blanca on Friday prompting authorities to ban swimming as a precaution.

Madrid ups ante against Catalan separatist lawmakers
Independence flags in Catalonia. Photo: AFP

Spain wants to nullify a text approved by Catalonia's parliament urging the region to push ahead with its independence drive, warning separatist lawmakers of severe consequences.

The good, bad and the ugly of long distance relationships
Are their advantages to loving from afar? Photo: MsSaraKelly / Flickr

Dating guru Sally Fazakerley gives us the lowdown on what it is really like to endure a long-distance relationship.

Thousands hunt Pokémon Go in Madrid to break record
Pokémon fans gather in Madrid's Puerta del Sol. Photo: AFP

It may only have been officially launched in Spain two weeks ago but already Pokémon Go already has so many fans here that Madrid set a world record.

Manhunt in Spain for abductor of teenager in Britain
Have you seen this couple? Photo: Metropolitan Police

A European Arrest Warrant has been issued for a Romanian 27-year-old accused of abducting a teenage girl from East London.

Barcelona unveils 'shame counter' of refugee deaths
Not just a number. Photo: AFP

The counter will update with each refugee victim who drowns at sea.

Spain's King Felipe VI tasks Rajoy with forming new govt
Rajoy in parliament last week. Photo: AFP

Can Rajoy do it or will there be third elections in Spain?

The Local list
Ten great reasons to discover the real Malaga right now
Malaga's modern port. Photo: Nick Kenrick/Flickr

Don't just fly into the airport and head straight for a beach resort. Here is why Malaga is now a destination in its own right.

National
7 reasons why grandparents in Spain are simply the best
Travel
Barcelona bans Segways from tourist clogged waterfront
National
Spain pays €300m each year in pensions… to dead people
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Police issue guidelines as Pokémon craze sweeps Spain
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Another dodgy art restoration raises alarm in Spain
National
Watch: Man in wheelchair zooms past Barcelona traffic
National
Woof! How to find dog-friendly beaches in Spain
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Travel
Tourist sparks bomb scare by locking suitcase to park bench
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Technology
Five brilliant apps to help improve your Spanish
National
Top ten tricks to survive the Spanish summer
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Travel
Off the beaten track: 14 best kept travel secrets in Spain
International
Keep calm and wait and see: Advice for expats post-Brexit
Features
Top 10 Spanish treats to keep you cool in summer
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
'I've had best time ever' insists American gored in bull run
Health
How to avoid heatstroke when Spain starts to sizzle
International
Champion of expat property rights in Spain awarded gong
National
Scorchio! Heat warnings issued across Spain
National
Brits demand dual citizenship for expats in Spain post Brexit
Sport
Spanish matador gored to death in the ring
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Lifestyle
Eleven types of men you might typically date in Spain
National
Spanish police rescue British teen trapped by dad in house for two years
Features
Seven burning questions for British expats about Brexit
Technology
Six free apps to simplify your summer in Spain
3,295
jobs available