Messi did not intend to evade taxes, Spanish prosecutor says

Barcelo, June 3: A public prosecutor said at the conclusion of Argentine soccer icon Lionel Messi's four-day tax-fraud trial that it was clear that the superstar striker for FC Barcelo had no intention of evading taxes in Spain.

The trial of Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, has shown an absence of fraudulent intent on the part of the player, Raquel Amado said on Friday in calling for his acquittal. However, she requested an 18-month prison sentence for his father for allegedly orchestrating a scheme to evade the payment of 4.1 million euros (around $4.6 million) in tax on income from the sale of the player's image rights in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 tax years. In August 2013, Messi paid 10 million euros ($13.2 million) in addendums to his 2010 and 2011 tax returns, which also are being investigated.

"The fraud, carried out through the creation of a company in Uruguay and the use of two others in Switzerland and Britain, was the father's decision," Amado said.

The Messi duo's strategy all along has been to "shift the responsibility to their tax advisors", Amado said, adding that that defense does not hold up because Jorge Messi knew what he was doing in choosing the illegal scheme offered to him.

But the prosecutor representing Spain's tax office, Mario Maza, requested sentences of 22 months in prison for each defendant, arguing that although Jorge Messi supervised the tax evasion scheme he also kept his son informed.

Maza also noted that the soccer star was ultimately the party liable for the tax payments. IANS

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