Barcelona star, Lionel Messi has denied tax evasion charges by a Barcelona court insisting that he always concentrated on playing football and trusted his father and lawyers with their dealings with the tax authorities.
The Argentine skipper appeared in court on Thursday to testify on charges of tax evasion.
#BREAKING Messi tells court: 'I was playing football, I knew nothing'— AFP news agency (@AFP) June 2, 2016
The player is quoted to have said, ““The truth is that I knew nothing. As my father explained, I was devoted to playing football, I trusted my father, I trusted the lawyers he had chosen to run things and I had no idea about anything.”
Injury prevented Messi from attending the trial opening on Tuesday.
Messi and his father are accused by the Spanish tax office of defrauding the government of $4.7 million between 2007 and 2009.
They could face jail terms of up to 22 months if found guilty. Both have denied the allegations.
The case centres on the player’s image rights and a web of shell companies allegedly used to evade taxes on income from those rights.
Tuesday’s hearing showed that Spain’s tax office made 20 inspections on Messi during its two-year investigation.
According to the prosecutors’ office, revenue was hidden using shell companies in Uruguay, Belize, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Messi and his father paid five million euros to the tax authorities as a “corrective” measure after being formally investigated in June 2013.
A resident in Barcelona since 2000, Messi became a Spanish citizen in 2005.
He is 10th on Forbes Magazine’s list of the world’s highest-earning athletes over the past decade, with an income of $350 million.