Leo Messi ‘not guilty’, says prosecution, but his father could face 18 months in jail

messi-2BARÇA FC’S Leo Messi has been considered not guilty of tax evasion, but his father Jorge Horacio Messi faces 18 months in prison, based upon prosecutor Raquel Amado’s report at the end of their hearing in Barcelona.

Sra Amado said Messi Senior was his son’s ‘alter ego’ in financial terms, and considers that he deliberately and knowingly swindled the Spanish tax office out of €4.1m by ‘hiding’ Leo’s income from his image rights, or the royalties paid to him for his face being used in advertising.

The unpaid tax relates to the years 2007 to 2009 inclusive.

Whilst the prosecution service is calling for an 18-month jail sentence – which Messi Senior will not have to serve, as it is a first offence – the State law service continues to believe Leo Messi is guilty.

It is calling for 22 months in jail for father and sun.

Raquel Amado believves the footballer cannot be found guilty because there is ‘no evidence’ that anyone ‘explained in full or in part’ about the structure of the fraudulent set-up.

She says Jorge Horacio ‘cannot escape liability’ by ‘pointing the finger at his solicitors’, the law firm Juárez Veciana, which has not been formally accused and only testified as witnesses.

“It might be that not everyone is here who should be – I won’t argue with that. It might be that not everyone is here, but of those who are, Sr Jorge Messi cannot avoid his liability,” Sra Amado stated.

She stresses that the front companies set up in tax havens – firstly in Belize and later in Uruguay – ‘guaranteed [Leo’s] income remained opaque’ when it was paid to these firms in order that the player ‘should not have to pay taxes in Spain’ for his image royalties.

Published Think Spain 3 June 2016

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