Lionel Messi to appear back in court over tax evasion

Lionel Messi is to face a court trial after the Barcelona star saw his appeal against claims of tax evasion in Spain dismissed, the Daily Mail has reported.

The four time World Player of the Year faces a date in court after he and his father Jorge Messi were accused of holding up to £3.4m in unpaid taxes between 2007 and 2009.

The Argentinian, who won the Golden Boot at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, was hoping to avoid any trial after he claimed it was his father who dealt with his income and he had no knowledge of any fraud.

In July it had been recommended that charges against Messi be dropped as it was the duty of his father to look after the family income.

But the appeal has been rejected with a court statement reading: “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.”

Barcelona’s number 10 will now have to sit in the dock alongside his father and answer vigorous questions about the failure to pay tax in Spain on sponsorship deals between 2007 and 2009, instead directing the money through a string of companies in countries such as England, Switzerland and Uruguay.

If it is decided that Messi was party to the wilful avoidance of tax he could have a large fine and even a suspended jail sentence.

He has already paid £8m to the Spanish tax man last year to head off problems for the years 2010 -11, also paying £10.4m in image rights and £9.4m owed on his salary from the last tax year.

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