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NRS-Import

Lionel Messi to stand trial over tax fraud

Global football star Lionel Messi will stand trial in Spain, alongside his father, on three counts of tax fraud. Prosecutors have stated that the Argentinian was not aware of any wrongdoing over the payment of taxes.

Court documents released on Thursday say a judge has rejected a request to clear Barcelona star Lionel Messi from wrongdoing and decided to charge him and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, with tax fraud.

Prosecutors had made it clear that three-time Ballon d'Or winner was unaware of the unlawful activities which, in their estimations, have been carried out by his father, who has been in control of his son's affairs since his childhood.

But the state attorney's office contended that 28-year old Messi knew enough to also be named in the case and has demanded a 22-month jail sentence for Messi.

However, lawyers acting on behalf of the tax authorities pleaded for the player to also be tried and for both defendants to face the prison time.
Both are unlikely to end up in jail as sentences of less than two years are normally suspended for first time offences in Spain. "There are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties," said the judge.
Messi and his father are accused of defrauding Spain's tax office of 4 million euros ($4.5 million) in unpaid taxes from 2007-09.

A date has yet to be set for the trial for the forward, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury.

apc/ (APC, Reuters)