Madrid - Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been named as a suspect in a tax
fraud probe and summoned to appear in court, a spokesperson for the public
prosecutor's office in Barcelona said on Thursday.
four-time World Player of the Year and his father Jorge Horacio are
accused of defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of more than four
million euros ($5 million, 3.4 million).
Spanish financial crimes
prosecutors filed papers with a court in Catalonia, northeastern Spain,
on June 12 accusing Messi and his father of cheating on income related
to the use of his image from 2006-2009.
The striker and his father
aimed to deceive the state by ceding Messi's image rights to companies
based in tax havens such as Belize and Uruguay so they would pay no tax
in Spain, according to the prosecutor's complaint.
today accepted this complaint and has summoned Messi and his father to
appear in court on September 17. They are considered suspects," the
spokesman for the public prosecutor's office in Barcelona, Jose Miguel
Company, told AFP.
Messi and his father have fiercely denied any wrongdoing.