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article imageLionel Messi faces possible jail sentence over tax fraud

By Anne Sewell     Oct 8, 2015 in Sports
Barcelona - Prosecutors asked to drop the tax fraud case against Lionel Messi, believing only his father should be held criminally accountable, but the FC Barcelona star will still have to head to court.
Barcelona football star Lionel Messi and his father Jorge are set to stand trial on three counts of tax fraud and could face prison sentences, according to a Spanish Court.
Prosecutors asked to drop the case against Lionel Messi, despite the fact that the Barcelona soccer star admitted withholding €4.1 million (US $4.6) in taxes from the Spanish revenue service.
According to Yahoo News, the prosecution says Messi's father, Jorge Horacio Messi, should be held criminally liable for the tax fraud, as he was responsible for his son's accounting between 2007 and 2009.
However, in court Thursday, the judge rejected the request by the public prosecutor to try only Jorge Messi. Lionel Messi will still have to face court time, after state lawyers acting for the Spanish revenue service filed their own charges.
Argentina-born Lionel Messi is a Spanish resident and thus has an obligation to declare all income received in Spain and overseas to the local tax authority. As reported by El Pais, Lionel Messi and his father were accused of defrauding the tax authorities out of €4.1 million (US $4.6) back in 2013. The funds related to Messi's advertising contracts with major companies during the period 2007 to 2009 which were found to be handled via fake companies in Belize and Uruguay.
According to public prosecutor Raquel Amado's office, Jorge Horacio Messi had created a network of companies in the tax haven countries to avoid paying tax, for which the prosecutor is asking him to serve one and a half years n prison as well as paying a fine in the sum of €2.09 million (US $3.26 million).
Lionel Messi is said to have "fully and blindly" trusted his father in his financial business. His defense lawyer stated that he “never spent a single minute of his time reading, studying or analyzing” his own contracts.
Reportedly the short prison sentence for Jorge Messi is due to the fact that Lionel Messi immediately paid €5 million (US $5.6 million) to the courthouse when learning of the charges, which was equivalent to the amount of the tax fraud plus interest.
As reported by NDTV despite this, the court feels that Lionel Messi benefited from the situation on his tax returns and will have to stand trial along with his father.
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