Lionel Messi’s tax evasion case is getting a little, well, messy – we’ve never done THAT before – now that he could be facing up to 22 and a half months in prison alongside his father.
A Spanish judge overruled a decision taken just three days ago by prosecutors to pardon La Pulga and only press charges against Messi’s dad, Jorge, according to advice from state attorneys, the Catalan High Court of Justice announced.
The case is taking more twists and turns than a trademark Messi dribble, but the court has disregarded the decision taken by prosecutors earlier this week to only charge Jorge Messi, who said he took full responsibility for the tax evasion which occurred between 2007 and 2009 with the state being deprived of €4.1 million (about US$4.7 million) although the Messi family subsequently made a corrective payment of €5.6million (about US$6.3 million) but that doesn’t seem to have been sufficient.
The pair is accused of committing three cases of tax fraud, each with a prison sentence of seven and a half months (totalling 22 and a half months).
If found guilty and sent to prison, that would mean nearly two years out of football for the Argentine captain and Barcelona forward.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as Spanish law dictates that those convicted for under two years don’t necessarily have to go to prison.
Leo Messi Management SLU, the company responsible for Messi’s image rights, today released a four-point statement in response, which basically accuses the state attorney of trying to contradict the previous decision from the prosecution.
- On September 25, the prosecution didn’t accuse Lionel Messi of any tax offense. The prosecution stated the reasons for not charging Lionel Messi in writing.
- The state attorney contradicts the request and judgement of the prosecution. The written summary of the state attorney was on July 8, while the prosecution’s summary is more recent as it was published on September 25.
- The state attorney represents the interests of the tax agency, while the prosecution is a constitutional body in the judicial system which has functional autonomy.
- The penalty that the state attorney is asking for is excessive.
The statement finishes by saying that in the coming weeks, Messi’s defense team will have the opportunity to prove that the position of the prosecution (to absolve Messi of blame) is correct.
For his part, Messi seems more focused on recovering from his injury, posting a photo of him with his knee in a protective brace on his Facebook this morning wishing his Argentine teammates luck for their opening World Cup Qualifying match against Ecuador (which is tonight at 9:00 PM).