Google+ PLANET FOOT 7: Messi and his father answers tax charges in court.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Messi and his father answers tax charges in court.

Lionel Messi and his father appeared before a Spanish judge to solution questions in a multimillion-euro tax fraud case on Friday.

Dressed in a dark coat and white shirt, the 26-year-old Argentine international made no comment before or after the closed-door hearing at a court in Gava, the coastal suburb of Barcelona where he lives.

Testimony by the four-time winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award revealed his desire to resolve the matter, Messi's lawyer, Cristobal Martel, told reporters after the hearing.'It showed tiny intent to defraud and good intent to resolve the situation with the tax office instead of entering into a bitter fight with the state,' the lawyer said.

Crowds of reporters and fans gathered outside the court where first Messi's father Jorge Messi and then the player himself were quizzed on charges of evading tax on the striker's image rights to the tune of 4.16 million euros.

They have denied wrongdoing, pointing the finger at a former agent of the player.

The court said Jorge Messi paid the tax authorities five million euros in August - the money claimed by the taxman plus interest - which is likely to significantly reduce any sentence should they be found guilty.

Messi's form on the field has scarcely been affected, with the Barcelona forward scoring 10 goals in just seven matches this season as the Spanish champions remain unbeaten.

'I am not worried, I'm always on the sidelines of all that, just like my father. We have our lawyers and our advisors who handle these things. We trust in them and they will solve the issue,' he said in July.

Nor does it appear to have tarnished his image among Barcelona fans.

'What I desire is for this to be resolved speedily so Messi can relax and focus on the football,' said one fan outside the court, Joaquin Bosch, 60, wearing a Barcelona shirt.

The case began in June when a prosecutor accused the Messis of evading tax by ceding the player's image rights to 'purely instrumental entities' in Belize and Uruguay.

According to the prosecutor's report, Messi 'obtained significant income' from image rights between 2006 and 2009 for which he failed to pay required taxes.

The news caused astonishment in Spain where Messi is seen as a more humble figure than other football stars, particularly his Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.


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