07/28 12:03 CDT Tax fraud case against Lionel Messi goes ahead
Tax fraud case against Lionel Messi goes ahead
MADRID (AP) --- A Spanish judge on Monday rejected a prosecutor's request to
drop charges of tax fraud against Lionel Messi and ordered the investigation
into three cases of suspected unpaid taxes to proceed.
A court statement said there was "sufficient evidence" to believe the Barcelona
and Argentina star "could have known and consented" to the creation of a
fictitious corporate structure to avoid paying taxes on income from his image
The statement was issued by the court in Gava, Barcelona, that was initially
called on by prosecutors to investigate if there was a case for Messi and his
father to answer.
In June, Messi's public relations firm said a prosecutor had agreed to drop the
tax fraud case against the player and his father.
Messi's father, Jorge Horacio Messi, is under investigation for an alleged 4
million euros ($5.3 million) in unpaid taxes from 2007-09.
Messi's father made a payment of more than 5 million euros ($6.6 million) in
August 2013 to cover alleged unpaid taxes, plus interest.
Monday's statement said it was not necessary for Messi "to have full knowledge
of all accounting or corporate transactions or the exact amount of the fraud"
for him to have had a clear idea of an intention to defraud.
Once the investigating judge finishes his deliberations, he will give the Tax
Office and the State Prosecutor's office 10 days to come up with a strong case
against Messi or a final decision to dismiss the case.
Should the judge, backed by a new decision from tax and prosecution
authorities, rule the case against Messi must go ahead with an indictment, the
Barcelona star would have to appear in court to be questioned.
Spain has been cracking down on tax evasion as it fights to repair the
country's public finances after a prolonged recession triggered by the collapse
of its once-booming real estate sector.
Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro warned footballers they should make sure
they were "comfortable" with their tax affairs.