The trial of the five-time world player of the year footballer Lionel Messi and his father Jorge on tax fraud charges has begun in Spain. Messi and his father, who manages his financial affairs, are accused of defrauding the Spanish government of more than €4m between 2007 and 2009.
Spanish authorities allege that tax havens were used to conceal earnings from Messi’s many lucrative image rights. The Spanish tax agency is seeking heavy fines and prison sentences. However, Messi and his father deny any wrongdoing. Messi’s lawyers had argued that the player had, ‘never devoted a minute of his life to reading, studying or analysing’ [the contracts]. The high court in Barcelona ruled in June 2015 that the footballer should not be granted immunity for not knowing what was happening with his finances.
It is understood that Messi and his father have already made a corrective payment to clear any unpaid tax plus interest. The trial is scheduled to last for three days.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.’ Equally true appears to be the legal principle, ‘ignorance of the law affords no excuse’… regardless of how talented you are with a football!
At Edwards & Company we have experience in dealing with HMRC investigations and white-collar crime.
Should you have any queries or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us.