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What A Fine Messi – 4 October 2013

Member: Nifa

The first appearances of football legend Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge, outside court last week in Barcelona looked more like a political rally than a tax evasion trial, with fans crowding outside the court shouting their support for the Argentine superstar.  Messi Junior and Senior are jointly charged with defrauding the Spanish state of €4.2m (£3.5m) by evading tax on earnings from personal endorsements from Lionel’s principal sponsors, Adidas, PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble.

According to the prosecution, Messi father and son set up shell companies in Uruguay and Belize to avoid paying tax in Spain but the accused say that the deals were made by Messi’s former agent, Rodolfo Schinocca without their knowledge.  Whatever the truth of the situation, the forensic accountants undoubtedly hired by the defence lawyers in Spain will find it, as their expertise lies in unravelling the financial strands in complex cases.

Being accused of wrongdoing by the taxman in any country is no joke and, even if the accused knows that he or she has nothing to worry about, as the Messi family appears to, it is still a time-consuming and worrying time, so defensive action needs to be taken immediately.  In fact, with a recent report from the Independent Tax Adjudicator highlighting a large number of mistakes made by the taxman, it is likely that more and more people with complicated finances could find themselves in need of some defensive investigative work.

In such cases, a forensic accountant may be called by the defence to explain accounting entries, explain the movements of funds, analyse financial transactions, and generally explain to the court how what will almost certainly be a complex series of money movements could be interpreted in ways other than how the prosecution views them.  

Author: Roger Isaacs, 4 October 2013

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