The tax courts have not been very favorable to Barcelona and there players this year. First the club was hit with the “Neymar Affair”a and then today a Spanish judge rejected a prosecutor’s request to drop charges of tax fraud against Lionel Messi and ordered the investigation into three cases of suspected unpaid taxes to proceed.
A court statement said there is “sufficient evidence” to believe the Barcelona and Argentina star “could have known and consented” to the creation of a fictitious corporate structure to avoid paying taxes on income from his image rights.
The statement called on by prosecutors to investigate if there was a case for Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, to answer. Messi senior then told the media that he and his son were both cooperating fully with the authorities.
Last month the prosecutor moved to have the case against Messi dropped and upheld only against his father, arguing that Messi Sr was reponsible for the family’s finances. But today the court said it was not necessary for Messi “to have full knowledge of all accounting or corporate transactions or the exact amount of the fraud” for him to have had a clear idea of an intention to defraud.
Spain has been cracking down on tax evasion as it fights to repair the country’s public finances after a prolonged recession triggered by the collapse of its once-booming real estate sector. Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro warned footballers they should make sure they were “comfortable” with their tax affairs.