The tax evasion case Lionel Messi and his father Jorge are facing, took a wrong turn today when the judge leading the case decided to deny a request from the prosecution that intended to remove the Barcelona football star from the investigation. Now the Messis have five days to appeal.
The case itself rests on an accusation from Spanish officials about fraudulent tax returns involving image rights that supposedly started on 2007 and went on for three years. In June, a judge agreed to an appeal in which the local football star stated he had no knowledge about such misconduct and, if granted, would have left him out of the case.
But now things took a turn for the worse, despite having the support from the public prosecutor’s office for the appeal, which argues there’s no evidence indicating any wrongdoing from Messi.
“The judge ruled: ‘In this type of crime, it is not necessary for someone to have complete knowledge of all the accounting and business operations nor the exact quantity, rather it is sufficient to be aware of the designs to commit fraud and consent to them.'”
If guilty, they could be sentenced to up to six years in prison and a fine. The case is in its initial stages and there’s no date for a potential court trial, but the Messis are facing serious trouble despite already having paid the state a 5 million Euro “corrective payment.” They are accused of evading taxes between 2007 and 2009.
Messi is ranked 4th on Forbes’ 100 list of highest-paid athletes, behind Floyd Mayweather, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lebron James.