Lionel Messi’s tax evasion episode seems to be getting more complicated after Messi’s lawyers denied reports from Catalunya that of an out-of-court settlement had been reached.
Catalan paper El Periodico reported Thursday that Messi and his father Jorge would fork out €15 million to satiate the taxman, a claim that appears to be false.
Messi and his father Jorge were accused of rerouting funds through offshore havens in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying €4.1 million in image rights taxes to the Spanish government from 2007-2009.
Initially declaring they had done no wrong, the Messi family dropped a €10 million prepayment to cover Messi junior’s image rights for 2010 and 2011. But even that story cannot be confirmed with total certainty. The years in question however, dated back to the middle of the Joan Laporta era in 2007, which meant significant financial restitution needed to be paid. Sources speculate that the total amount paid could total close to €30 million.
Lionel and his father were originally scheduled to appear before a judge on September 17, which could have conflicted with the first match-day of Champions League season. Had the two men been found guilty of tax evasion and other charges, they both could have faced up to six years in prison, though such sentences are rarely carried out in Spain.
According to Forbes, Messi earns $41.3 million annually, putting him as the tenth highest paid athlete in the world. Approximately half of this amount comes from image rights paid by companies such as FC Barcelona, Pepsi, Danone and Adidas.
FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and former president Joan Laporta, under whom the first evasions took place, declared they believed the Messi family were innocent of any wrongdoing.
Source: ESPNFC, Image: Getty Images