Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi is set to face trial over alleged tax fraud after a Spanish court today (Friday) rejected his appeal against being named in the case.
Spanish news agency EFE said that the appeal was rejected on that basis that the Argentina captain could have been aware of the activities of his father Jorge. Messi’s father acts as the player’s representative and manages all of the football player’s financial affairs.
Messi’s appeal was based on there being no evidence of wrongdoing on his part and requested that proceedings to that effect be dismissed. Spain’s public prosecutor challenged the appeal with the judge’s ruling stating there was a “subjective opinion” that Messi “was on the periphery of the financial, contractual and tax management of his income”.
In a statement, the judge said: “In this type of crime, it is not necessary for someone to have complete knowledge of all the accounting and business operations nor the exact quantity, rather it is sufficient to be aware of the designs to commit fraud and consent to them.”
The Argentine duo are accused of defrauding authorities of more than €4m ($5.1m) over a three-year period from 2007 to 2009. The pair are accused of selling rights to use the player’s image by using companies in Belize and Uruguay, therefore circumventing Spanish tax regulations.
In August, Jorge Messi made a payment of €5m to the tax authorities, the €4.16m of the alleged unpaid tax plus interest.
Messi and his father have been given five days to appeal against today’s ruling.