MESSI TO STAND TRIAL; LAWYERS DEMAND PRISON SENTENCE

messi

Messi heading to testify in court back on 2013.

A court in Spain has ruled that Argentina and Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi and his father should stand trial on tax fraud charges.

Messi and his father Jorge are accused of defrauding Spain of more than €4m (£3.1m; $5m). They deny any wrongdoing.

The judge in charge of the case rejected the request by prosecutors to drop the charges against the Barca playmaker.

Lawyers who were acting on behalf of the tax authorities demanded 22-month jail sentences for both defendants.

Beyond his 20 million Euro per-year salary, Messi’s source of income includes his image rights which are tied to contracts with major companies such as Danone, Adidas and Pepsi-Cola.

Prosecutors allege that Jorge avoided paying tax on his son’s earnings by using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay in 2007-09.

El Pais newspaper reported earlier that Messi’s lawyers had argued ” Messinever devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing” the contracts.

‘Corrective payment’

Messi and his father had made a voluntary €5m “corrective payment” – equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest – previously in August 2013.

“There are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties,” wrote the judge in a court filing.

No date has been set for the trial of the 28-year-old footballer – the four-time World Player of the Year and one of the richest athletes in the world.

In June, the high court in Barcelona ruled that Messi should not be granted immunity for not knowing what was happening with his finances, which were being managed in part by his father.

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