Messi denies tax evasion
Lionel Messi has reacted with surprise to reports that a lawsuit has been filed against him for unpaid income tax.
According to agency reports, the Argentina international is accused by the Economic Crimes Prosecutor Barcelona of defrauding more than four million euros, with his father also implicated in the lawsuit. However, in a short statement on his official Facebook page, Messi denied such offences and stated that it is something his advisers will look into for him. The statement read: "We have just known through the media about the claim filed by the Spanish tax authorities. "We are surprised about those (sic) news, because we have never committed any infringement. We have always fulfilled all our tax obligations, following the advices of our Tax Consultants who will take care of clarifying this situation."
Messi has been at Barcelona since he was 13 and has won six La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and three UEFA Champions League titles since breaking into the first team.
The current World Player of the Year, 25, scored 60 goals at club level last season as Barcelona finished 15 points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga. A Spanish state prosecutor lodged the complaint, signed by prosecutor Raquel Amado. The lawsuit has been submitted for trial at the courthouse in Gava, the Barcelona district where the forward lives and relates to his income tax returns from 2007 to 2009.
A judge at the courthouse must accept the prosecutor's lawsuit before charges can be brought.