MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s public prosecutor has asked a judge to dismiss charges against Lionel Messi for alleged tax evasion, arguing his father was responsible for his finances and not the Barcelona forward.
The Argentine World Player of the Year and his father Jorge were accused last year of defrauding the Spanish state of more than 4 million euros (£3.21 million) in income from Messi’s image rights by filing false returns for the years 2006 to 2009.
They have denied any wrongdoing.
Messi’s father has already assumed full responsibility for his son’s tax situation and the pair made a “corrective payment” of 5 million euros to Spanish authorities last September.
“It is clear that Lionel A. Messi did not participate in the decisions on the management and destiny of his income nor was he aware of the reach, dimension, purpose or impact of the structure of the holding (to avoid taxes),” prosecutor Raquel Amado wrote in a document published on Tuesday.
Messi, one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, earns just over $40 million a season in salary and bonuses, according to Forbes magazine, as well as about $23 million from sponsors.
The magazine has him as the fourth top-earning athlete behind boxer Floyd Mayweather, Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and basketball player LeBron James.
Reporting by Tracy Rucinski, editing by Tony Goodson