BOTH Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi and his father who manages his affairs were charged with multi-million euro tax evasion several years ago and now their trial opens today (May 31), but without Lionel Messi who has suffered a lower back injury whilst playing for his nation against Honduras.
According to the prosecution, both parties colluded to siphon over €10 million made from the sale of his image rights in just three years (2007 to 2009) by sending the money to Belize and Uruguay thereby avoiding the payment of €4.1 million in tax, although the soccer star denies his part in any avoidance, explaining that he simply signed whatever papers his father put in front of him.
Official prosecutors are seeking a jail sentence of 22-and-a-half months for his father if he is found guilty, plus fines equivalent to the amount that was allegedly defrauded, although Messi has been implicated by the tax authorities who want him to face a similar sentence.
Whatever happens, they have already lodged €5 million with the Spanish Government in order to show their good will and even if found guilty, it is unlikely that either man would be jailed but would receive the equivalent of a suspended sentence.
Both Messi (who is actually a Spanish citizen as well as captain of the Argentinian soccer team) and his father are due to attend court on June 2 to give evidence, and then will hopefully be flying to the USA to take part in the Copa America tournament.