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Messi and father to appear in court over tax evasion

ESPN staff
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Lionel Messi appears in court over tax evasion


Lionel Messi and his father Jorge are to give evidence in court in Barcelona on Friday morning, in a hearing in which prosecutors are expected to accuse them of tax evasion.

It has been claimed that the pair, and their financial advisors, illegally re-routed image rights revenues through offshore tax havens from 2007 through to 2009 to avoid paying the €4.1 million taxes due in Spain on such income.

A payment of €5m was reportedly made in August to cover this sum, plus interest.

However prosecutors have continued the case and may now press for further payment or punishment, amid a move by the Spanish government to crack down hard on tax evasion due to the country's continuing economic woes.

The two Messis are expected to say they were unaware they were doing anything wrong, and were badly advised by their accountants and tax consultants.

If found guilty, they could be fined up to €21m and receive a one year suspended prison sentence.

Other Spanish-based sporting figures including Luis Figo, Davor Suker and tennis player Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario have settled their own tax disputes in recent years.

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