The Argentine and Barcelona star yesterday appeared before Barcelona court with his father, Jorge Horacio Messi to defend themselves against tax fraud charges leveled against them.
The two faces three counts of tax fraud and if found guilty, they could be sentenced to two years in prison for defrauding Spain’s tax authority of €4.1 million which happened between 2007 and 2009.
During their third day of trial, a lot of people were seen outside the court chanting “pay back the money” while others were in support of the super star.
The Barcelona star who is also missing Argentina’s preparations for the Cops America was also being investigated by the Spanish tax authority after his name was among those released in the probe of international offshore accounts, known as the panama papers but he was not charged for those accounts.
During his testimony, Messi said he was not aware of the tax issues and he trusted his dad on every single step which he was taking.
“I trust my father with all my finances and I knew nothing about how these tax fraud issues came about. I was busy playing football and I had no idea about anything, because I trusted my dad and my lawyers,” said Messi.
His lawyers tried to show the court that their client was not familiar with the tax issues which has led to his fraud charges.
On the other hand, the authorities said, despite Messi not being aware of the tax issues, there was sufficient evidence to believe he could have known and consented to the creation of a fictitious structure to avoid paying taxes on income from his image rights.