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Laporta defends Messi in tax case

13 June 2013, 14:36

Barcelona - Joan Laporta, the former president of Spanish champions Barcelona, on Thursday defended the club's idol Lionel Messi against charges of tax fraud.

"I am convinced that neither Leo nor his father have committed any infractions or irregularities," Laporta, who was Barca president from 2003 to 2010, told radio station Cadena COPE.

Messi and his father Jorge were charged on Wednesday by public prosecutor Raquel Amado in Gava, the seaside resort close to Barcelona where Messi lives, of defrauding the tax authorities of €4.1 million between 2007 and 2009 by ceding his image rights to fictitious companies in tax havens such as Uruguay and Belize.

"I don't recall where were based the companies through which we paid Messi (for his image rights). What I do know is that all of them were legal companies. I know they (the Messis) had a conflict with one of their advisers, and maybe this is where the charges come from," Laporta said.

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