Tax-Evasion Trial Of Footballer Lionel Messi Begins In Spain

Lionel Messi, Argentina and Barcelona footballer and his father Jorge Horacio Messi, who manages his financial affairs, are accused of defrauding Spain of more than €4m (£3m; $4.5m) between 2007 and 2009. Their trial has begun in Spain. The trial is expected to last for three days, with Messi appearing in court on Thursday.

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Authorities allege that the two used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights. They could face jail terms of up to 22 months if found guilty.

The case centres on the player’s image rights and a web of shell companies allegedly used to evade taxes on income from those rights. The Spanish tax agency is demanding heavy fines and prison sentences. In addition to Messi, Spain’s tax office has also begun investigating the finances of high-profile Barcelona players such as Neymar, Javier Mascherano and Adriano.

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