Messi tax fraud trial hits delay hurdle

The case involving Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father on tax evasion charges has been delayed until September 27th, a court statement confirmed on Tuesday.

Messi tax fraud trial hits delay hurdle
Argentina's national football team forward Lionel Messi runs during a training session in Buenos Aires on September 6th. Photo: Daniel Garcia/AFP

Messi was due to appear in court in the coastal town of Gava near Barcelona on September 17, the day before Barcelona start their Champions League campaign against Ajax.

However, the Argentine's lawyers had asked for that date to be changed due to commitments on another case on the same day.

Messi and his father Jorge Horacio Messi are accused of trying to deceive the Spanish taxman to the tune of €4 million ($5 million, £3.4 million) by ceding the player's image rights to companies based in tax havens such as Belize and Uruguay.

They are alleged to have drawn up deals in Britain and Switzerland to ensure that the income passed straight into the tax havens without passing through Spain.

However, Messi's lawyers have claimed the 26-year-old has scrupulously complied with Spanish legislation and will pay any amount he is found to owe.

Last week a judge's ruling confirmed that Jorge Horacio Messi paid €5.02 million to the tax authorities as a corrective payment in August for the €4 million due in tax plus interest.

The fraud charges have come as a huge blow to Messi's previously squeaky clean reputation having avoided adverse headlines throughout his career for both his performances on the field and his behaviour off it.

The four-time World Player of the Year is one of the most marketable sportsmen in the world. Messi is ranked 10th in Forbes' list of sports stars' incomes with an annual €15.8 million from endorsements alone.

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Shakira to be questioned over alleged tax fraud in Spain

Colombian superstar Shakira will be questioned by a court near Barcelona on June 12th for allegedly evading €14.5 million ($16.5 million) in taxes.

Shakira to be questioned over alleged tax fraud in Spain
Photo: AFP

In a statement released Tuesday, the high court of Catalonia, where the singer lives with her partner, FC Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique, said she had been summoned to appear before a judge in Esplugues de Llobregat.

The 42-year-old is suspected of not paying taxes in Spain despite being a resident between 2011 and 2014, according to prosecutors.   

The case only covers the period from 2012 to 2014, however, as the timeframe to prosecute alleged tax offences in 2011 has expired.   

In a relationship since 2011 Pique, with whom she has two sons, Shakira transferred her official residency to Spain in 2015.   

Until then, it was in the Bahamas.   

But a spokesman for prosecutors in Barcelona told AFP last year that this didn't “match reality” with her children and partner in Barcelona.   

Shakira's representatives insist that until 2014 she earned most of her money in international tours and didn't live more than six months a year in Spain — a prerequisite to be an official tax-paying resident in the country.

With her mix of Latin and Arabic rhythms and rock influences, Shakira is one of the biggest stars from Latin America, scoring major global hits with songs such as “Hips Don't Lie” and “Whenever, Wherever.”

READ MORE: Shakira pays €20 million to settle Spanish tax debt