The Barcelona Provincial High Court announced today that Barcelona star Lionel Messi’s appeal has been denied and that he and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, will face trial for tax fraud, which the court claims occurred from 2007-09.
Messi’s father is alleged to have set up a series of companies which would, “simulate the handing over of the player’s image rights,” according to an El Pias report. Messi, who is fresh off Barcelona’s 3-1 Champions League final victory against Juventus, is alleged by the prosecution to have been aware of the fraudulent actions and directly benefited from their existence. From El Pais’ report:
The Barcelona Provincial High Court believes there is evidence that the Argentinean forward “benefited” from a network of companies that allowed him to defraud the Spanish Tax Agency of €4.1 million in income tax, regardless of whether or not he had knowledge of the structures in place.
Messi could face a €24-million fine and up to five years in prison if found guilty.