Denis Foynes – Barcelona footballing superstar, Lionel Messi and his father are being investigated in Spain for allegedly evading 4 million euros in taxes.
The finances in question involve image rights income from 2007 to 2009. Today, it has been revealed that Spain’s ‘Agencia Tributaria’ (Inland Revenue) could extend its investigation into the superstar to 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Allegedly, the Messi’s defrauded more than €4 million, by simulating the transfer of the player’s image rights to holding companies grounded in tax havens.
His Barcelona net salary is around 16 million euros a year, making him one of the world’s highest-paid athletes. On top of this, he has also signed a number of multimillion-dollar endorsements with major sponsors around the world. Forbes estimates that Messi’s total net yearly income may be as high as 31 million euros.
Messi has responded to the allegations with surprise and stated on his Facebook page: “We have never committed any infringement. We have always fulfilled all our tax obligations, following the advices of our tax consultants who will take care of clarifying this situation.”
Messi is still yet to be formally charged and it could be months until something happens as the Spanish legal system is notoriously slow moving.
The scandal comes as Spanish authorities step up their efforts to clamp down on tax fraud to help the government balance the books.
Barcelona Football Club has refused to comment on the issue.