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article imageFootball star Lionel Messi named as suspect in tax fraud probe

By Anne Sewell     Jun 20, 2013 in Sports
According to a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office in Barcelona, football star Lionel Messi has been named as a suspect in a tax fraud probe and summoned to appear in court.
Together with his father, Jorge Horacio, the 25-year-old four-time World Player of the Year is accused of defrauding Spanish tax authorities of in excess of €4 million ($5 million).
Papers were filed with a court in Gava, Catalunya in northeastern Spain by Spanish financial crimes prosecutors on June 12, relating to Messi and his father cheating on income related to the use of his image from 2006–2009.
According to the prosecutor's complaint, Messi and his father aimed to deceive the state by ceding Messi's image rights to companies based in tax havens such as Belize and Uruguay in order to avoid paying tax in Spain.
"The judge today accepted this complaint and has summoned Messi and his father to appear in court on September 17th. They are considered suspects," the spokesman for the public prosecutor's office in Barcelona told AFP.
Messi made a statement via his Facebook page earlier this month saying: "We have just known through the media about the claim filed by the Spanish tax authorities. We are surprised about the news, because we have never committed any infringement.
"We have always fulfilled all our tax obligations, following the advice of our tax consultants, who will take care of clarifying this situation."
According to Spain's EFE news agency, if convicted, Messi could face up to six years in jail and a large fine.
More about Spain, Barcelona, Lionel messi, Messi, Football star
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