Messi has paid his taxes, claim lawyers

The Argentine will have to defend his case on Sept. 17, but his legal representatives insist allegations of fraud are baseless and will be cleared "quickly."
The lawyers of Lionel Messi have insisted the Barcelona attacker has complied with Spanish legislation in response to recent allegations of tax evasion.

Financial crime prosecutors summoned the 25-year-old, along with his father Jorge Messi, to a court hearing on Sept. 17 after the pair were adjudged to have committed three offenses against the Spanish tax authorities between 2006 and 2009.

According to the prosecutor's complaint filed at a court in Gava in northeastern Spain, Messi and his father avoided running up tax receipts of more than 4 million euros by forwarding the four-time Ballon d'Or winner's image rights to overseas tax havens.

A statement released by Juarez Veciana Lawyers, the forward's representatives, read: "We firmly believe the innocence of our client. He complies scrupulously with Spanish legislation. He has paid what corresponds to him legally.

"We are confident the judicial investigation will be resolved in the minimum time possible [to end] this situation, which has left our client in a situation of media defenselessness, which we deeply regret."

Jorge Messi, meanwhile, assured that both he and his son were innocent of any wrongdoing, revealing that they pay their fair share of tax to the Spanish state.

"That there is a difference of opinion between our financial advisers and the Inland Revenue is perfectly normal in the case of people that pay a lot in tax," Jorge Messi told COPE. "But I can assure you that what we pay annually is an eight figure number. We are confident an agreement will be reached."

According to reports in Spain, Lionel Messi and his father could face up to six years in prison, along with a hefty fine, if they are found guilty.

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