Lionel Messi and his father are being investigated in Spain for allegedly defrauding the state of more than €4m (£3.4m).
The Barcelona star and his father, Jorge Horacio, are suspected of filing fraudulent tax returns for 2007-09, officials say. The Spanish tax authorities accuse Messi and his father of using companies in Belize and Uruguay to sell the rights to use the footballer’s image.
Since these companies based outside Spain, Messi and his father avoided paying more than 4m euros in tax.
Responding to the allegation, Messi expressed surprise at the charges writing on his Facebook page:
“We have never committed any infringement. We have always fulfilled all our tax obligations, following the advices of our tax consultants who will take care of clarifying this situation.”
Technically, Messi and his father could face up to six years in prison and a large fine, but expect this to be settled with Messi paying a fine.
With the economies across Europe struggling under huge deficits, look for more tax authorities to go after high profile athletes, who often use tax havens to shelter part of their income.