Lionel Messi Investigated For Fraud In Spain

Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi and his father are being investigated in Spain for allegedly defrauding the state of more than 4m euros (£3.4m).The 25-year-old Argentina forward and his father, Jorge Horacio, are suspected of filing fraudulent tax returns for 2007-09, officials say.

The World Player of the Year has so far made no comment on the allegation.

His net annual salary at Barcelona is said to be 16m euros, making him one of the world’s highest-paid athletes.

On Wednesday, a complaint signed by prosecutor Raquel Amado was filed at the courthouse in Gava – the affluent Barcelona district where Messi lives.

Judges at the courthouse must accept the complaint before the suspects can be charged, reports say.

Messi and his father are suspected of using companies abroad – in Belize and Uruguay – to sell the rights to use the footballer’s image.

The accusation is that by using companies based outside Spain where he lives and plays club football, Messi and his father avoided paying more than 4m euros in tax…

He wrote 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.”

The investigation comes as the Spanish authorities step up their efforts to clamp down on tax fraud, as the government tries to balance its budget during a continuing economic crisis

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