Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Horacio have been formally targeted as tax-fraud suspects and will appear before a judge in Barcelona on September 17. The public prosecutor has accused the pair of evading the payment of 4.1 million euros of tax, relating to the FC Barcelona and Argentina soccer star’s earnings for the years 2007 to 2009.
The lawsuit filed against the father and son states that the “initiative to defraud” stemmed from Jorge Horacio Messi, who allegedly prepared a “strategy” to avoid paying the full amount of taxes on the player’s earnings. As far back as 2005 – when Messi was still a minor but based on “solid expectations regarding his great economic value” – Messi’s father asked a third party to organize a tax-evasion scheme, according to the prosecutor’s complaint. On reaching the age of 18 in June 2005, Messi is alleged to have “ratified” these practices and agreed that they should continue.
Last week, when the prosecution’s lawsuit was filed, the four-time Ballon d’Or winner issued a statement saying that he was “surprised” by the accusation, because “we have always met all of our fiscal obligations, following the advice of our financial advisors.”