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A Messi Business

Member: Nifa

Soccer star Lionel Messi is set to face trial for alleged tax fraud after a judge rejected his appeal to have the charges dropped on Friday. The judge ruled that Messi should have been aware of how his father was managing his financial affairs, meaning that a criminal case is likely to proceed against the pair.  Messi junior and senior both appeared in court in Spain in September 2013, after the country’s tax authorities maintained that "image rights" payments made to the player have been channelled through offshore tax havens, leading to the evasion of €4.1 million (£3.2m) in taxes between 2007 and 2009.

At that hearing Lionel said that he did not look after the details of his own finances, leaving such matters to his father. Messi senior reportedly told the court that he would take responsibility for any wrong-doing and that the family had been misled by “unscrupulous financial advisors” and were now happy to make right any wrongs they had accidentally committed.

The Messis hoped that their contrite attitude would lead to criminal charges being dropped, and the public prosecutor's office had reportedly supported Messi's appeal believing this version of events.  However, following extensive forensic investigation by the authorities, the judge has now ruled that it is a "subjective opinion" that Messi "was on the periphery of the financial, contractual and tax management of his income" even if his father had primary control over those matters.

Many people are unaware that forensic investigators do not only scrutinise finances but also investigate emails and interview people in their search to find out the truth of a matter, as has evidently been done in this case.  If found guilty, both could be fined up to €21m (£16.4m) and receive a one-year suspended prison sentence.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 10 October 2014

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