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Barcelona star Lionel Messi faces six year jail sentence...

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...over alleged £3.2m tax fraud.


MESSI and his dad, Jorge, are accused of taking part in a plot to cheat the Spanish authorities out of £3.2million by hiding the footballer's huge earnings from sponsorship deals.




LIONEL Messi was yesterday ordered to stand trial accused of a £3million tax scam that carries a maximum six-year jail sentence.


The world’s greatest footballer will stand in the dock next to his father and agent, Jorge.


They are accused of taking part in a plot to cheat the Spanish authorities out of £3.2million by hiding Messi’s huge earnings from sponsorship deals.


It’s alleged the father and son used front companies in tax havens including Belize and Uruguay to sell Messi’s image rights between 2007 and 2009.


The Barcelona and Argentina superstar has deals with companies including Adidas, Pepsi, Procter and Gamble, Danone, the Kuwait Food Company and Catalan

bank Banco Sabadell.


Messi and his dad thought they were in the clear after handing over a £3.9million “corrective payment” – £3.2million plus interest – last year.


In return, prosecutors asked for the case to be dropped, but the Spanish treasury objected and a magistrate yesterday ordered a trial.


Messi told a court last September that he knew nothing about any scam, adding: “My dad deals with all the money.”


But the magistrate in Gava, near Barcelona, insisted yesterday that Messi “may have consented to the evasion of tax”. He added: “It is not necessary for someone to have complete knowledge of all the accounting and business operations.


“It is sufficient to be aware of the designs to commit fraud and consent to them.”


Messi has scored 248 goals for Barcelona and won three Champions League and six Spanish league titles. The four-time World Player of the Year captained Argentina to the World Cup final

this summer.


He reportedly earns £22m a year at Barcelona and pays £12m of his wages in income tax.



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