Lionel Messi’s father has reaffirmed that he and his son have done nothing wrong following their court summons as part of an inquiry into alleged tax fraud.
The 25-year-old four-time World Footballer of the Year and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, have been accused of defrauding the Spanish authorities of more than £4m.
They are suspected of using companies- in Belize and Uruguay- to sell the rights to use Messi’s image so they would pay no tax in Spain, where the footballer lives and plays professional football.
According to the prosecutor’s complaint filed at a court in Gava, a Mediterranean coastal town near Barcelona, Messi and his father drew up deals related to his image rights in Britain and Switzerland, ensuring that the income went straight to the tax havens in Belize and Uruguay without any tax being paid.
The father was accused of being the mastermind behind the scheme, allegedly setting it up in 2005 before his son turned 18 on June 24 of that year.
The prosecutor said Messi later agreed with his father’s tactics so that he would avoid any taxes income from the use of his image right during the period.
“I can assure you that what (Lionel) pays every year is an eight-figure sum,” Jorge Messi told radio station Cope. “We are relaxed because we have never missed a payment to the tax authority.”
The income related to his image rights included contracts with FC Barcelona, Banco Sabadell, Danone, Adidas, Procter & Gamble, Kuwait Food Company and Pepsi-Cola.