World football star Lionel Messi is in hot water after a Spanish High Court rejected his latest appeal to drop tax fraud charges. Argentina and Barcelona’s forward played ignorance to the accusation that he and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, defrauded Spanish authorities of more than five million dollars.
The court argued that Messi should not be granted exception from any punishment or sentencing despite his defence statement that the handling of his finances were out of his control.
The pair allegedly avoided the Spanish taxation office by misusing worldwide companies in Belize and Uruguay to sell Messi’s image rights.
Both Lionel and Jorge denied the charges, and are alleged to have withheld the income earned from the following companies: Banco Sabadell, Danone, Adidas, Pepsi, Proctor and Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company, between 2007 and 2009.
Similarly in October last year, a Spanish judge rejected Messi’s appeal for the charges to be dropped on the grounds that Messi’s father handled his finances. In August 2013, a voluntary ‘corrective payment’ of $7.2 million dollars was paid by Messi and his father; a sum that equates to unpaid taxes plus interest.
This time Messi’s defence argued that the footballer “never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing” his contracts, therefore no charges should be made.
Yesterday, the Barcelona High Court stated that the pending decision about the accused’s guilt will be left for court hearing.
The four-time World Player of the Year is now awaiting for his verdict. –Ellen Conroy
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