Barcelona football player Lionel Messi could have defrauded the Spanish state of more than 4 million euros said Spanish authorities yesterday. That’s why Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, who has also been implicated in the alleged tax fraud, are now the subjects of a legal investigation after authorities say they filed fraudulent tax returns in Spain for at least three years.
The accusations all center around the use of Lionel Messi’s image, an image that can demand millions of euros in right of use fees, and one Messi is said to have taken illegal advantage of.
Spain’s tax authorities say they have evidence Messi and his father used companies in both Belize and Uruguay and sold his official image rights through them, thus avoiding paying any tax on the image sales in Spain.
The tax owed on the sale of image rights would have cost Messi at least 4 million euros from images that should have been sold in Spain, through Spanish companies or, if sold abroad, still had Spanish taxes paid on them.
According to Barcelona’s public prosecutor for financial crimes, Lionel Messi paid no taxes at all.
For his part, Messi denies any wrongdoing and says he has always paid all of his taxes. He also said he expects his tax consultant to be able to take care of the situation.
As the fraud case stands at the moment, however, it could be accepted in a Spanish court quickly and charges filed against him and his father.
The 26-year-old Argentinian player currently makes 16 million euros a year in just his salary from Barcelona. He has been living and working in Spain since he was 13-years-old.