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Messi to face court over tax fraud claims

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Messi to face court over tax fraud claims
A Spanish judge has summoned footballer Lionel Messi and his father to appear in court on September 17th. File photo: Lluis Gene/AFP
15:10 CEST+02:00
Barcelona football star Lionel Messi has been named as a suspect in a tax fraud probe and summoned to appear in court, a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office in Barcelona said on Thursday.

The 25-year-old four-time World Player of the Year and his father Jorge Horacio are accused of defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of more than €4 million ($5 million, Ł3.4 million).

Spanish financial crimes prosecutors filed papers with a court in Catalonia, northeastern Spain, on June 12 accusing Messi and his father of cheating on income related to the use of his image from 2006–2009.

Messi and his father aimed to deceive the state by ceding Messi's image rights to companies based in tax havens such as Belize and Uruguay so they would pay no tax in Spain, according to the prosecutor's complaint.

"The judge today accepted this complaint and has summoned Messi and his father to appear in court on September 17th. They are considered suspects," the spokesman for the public prosecutor's office in Barcelona, Jose Miguel Company, told AFP.

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