Barca star Leo Messi denies tax evasion charges

Updated: 2013-06-13 14:44


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Barca star Leo Messi denies tax evasion charges

Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts during the Spanish King's Cup soccer match against Cordoba at Nuevo Arcangel stadium in Cordoba in this December 12, 2012 file photo. Barcelona's Argentina forward Messi and his father denied wrongdoing on June 12, 2013 after the Spanish tax authorities accused them of defrauding the state of more than four million euros ($5.3 million).[Photo/Agencies]

MADRID -- FC Barcelona star Leo Messi has expressed his surprise at Wednesday's news that he has been accused of tax evasion.

The football player, who on Tuesday played for Argentina in their World Cup qualifying match away to Ecuador, published a note on his 'Facebook' page, saying he had not known anything about the accusations, which have been made by the Prosecutor for Economic Crimes, in the city of Barcelona.

The Prosecutor accuses Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, of defrauding the Spanish Treasury over 4 million Euros in the tax declarations of 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Messi is accused of having defrauded 1,059,398 euros in 2007, 1, 572,183 euros the following year and 1,533,092 euros in 2009 and the accusation says that "with the aim of evading having to pay taxes," he simulated the ceding of image rights to "societies which are purely instrumental in fiscal paradises (Belize and Uruguay), while at the same time forming license contracts between those societies and others jurisdiction of convenience, (in the UK and Switzerland.)"

This was supposedly carried out with the aim ensuring that his earnings from this field, "radiated to the societies situated in fiscal paradises without hardly having to be taxed."

Should Messi be convicted of this, he could face a penalty of between one and five years in prison and a fine of six times the amount of money supposedly defrauded, although the accusation insists that "the initiative to commit fraud came from Jorge Messi. "

Leo Messi flatly denies the charges insisting he on his social network site that, "we have found out through the press of the actions begun by the Spanish prosecutor.  This is something that causes us surprise because we have never committed any infraction. We have always attended all of our tax obligations, following the advice of our fiscal advisors, who will now look after clearing up this situation," he published.