Messi, dad deny accusations
13 June 2013, 09:24
Madrid - Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi denied stunning allegations
Wednesday that he and his father engaged in tax fraud worth more than
€4million, expressing shock at the accusations.
Argentina international and four-time World Player of the year said he
had just learned through the media of the allegations filed by the
Spanish tax authorities.
"We are surprised about this news because
we have never committed any infringement," he said in an
English-language statement released on his Facebook account.
have always fulfilled all our tax obligations, following the advice of
our tax consultants who will take care of clarifying this situation," he
Spanish financial crime prosecutors filed the complaint accusing Messi earlier in the day, a judicial source said.
The filing reportedly included the player's father, Jorge Horacio Messi.
is all a mistake, you have to speak about this to the tax experts and
lawyers who need to clear it up," the father told Spanish sports daily
"I don't understand what is going on. I don't manage these matters, I am resident in Argentina," he was quoted as saying.
striker's father said he had not spoken to his son about the reports.
"I don't need to since it is a mistake. Why would I shock him?"
The court in Catalonia, where Messi is resident, could yet refuse to let the complaint proceed, the judicial source told AFP.
if it were to go ahead, it would represent a huge blow to the prestige
of Messi, who has long been seen as a more humble figure than most
top-class footballers and particularly his Real Madrid rival Cristiano
Messi's achievements on the field have made him one of the most marketable sportsmen in the world, however.
the Argentine was ranked 10th amongst Forbes' list of sports stars'
incomes this month with an annual $21m from endorsements alone.
Barcelona declined to comment.
player and his father are accused of three crimes of defrauding the
state of taxes related to income from the use of his image in tax
declarations made in 2007, 2008 and 2009, Spanish media said, citing a
written copy of the filing.
The striker and his father allegedly
avoided taxes by pretending to cede their image rights to companies
based in tax havens such as Belize and Uruguay.
They are also
accused of deliberately setting up image rights deals in Britain and
Switzerland, which are reportedly less stringent on the use of corporate
Messi and his father acted with "total opaqueness" towards the Spanish authorities, the filing said.
complaint lodged with the court in Gava, near Barcelona, accused them
of defrauding the state of €1.06 million in 2007, €1.57 million in 2008,
and €1.53 million in 2009.
The father is accused of being the
brains behind the scheme, allegedly setting it up in 2005 before his son
turned 18 on June 24 of that year, Spanish media said.
prosecutor alleged that Messi later agreed with his father's tactics so
that he would avoid any taxes on income from the use of his image rights
during the period.
The income related to his image rights
included contracts with Barcelona, Banco Sabadell, Danone, Adidas,
Pepsi-Cola, Telefonica and Kuwait Food Company, media said.
net income from image rights reportedly amounted to €2.56 million in
2007, €3.82 million in 2008 and €3.80 million in 2009.
Join in the conversation on our Facebook page.
Also get the latest news by following us on Twitter.