Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi will stand trial in Spain on three counts of tax fraud. The four-time Ballon d'Or winner could face 22 months in jail if found guilty of defrauding Spanish authorities.
On Tuesday (6 October) it was announced Spanish prosecutors would pursue a case against Messi's father Jorge Horacio Messi for tax fraud totalling €4m (£2.9m, $4.5m) between 2007 and 2009 but would drop their case against the 28-year-old forward. Prosecutors accepted the argument Messi was not aware of his father's activities.
But on the advice of the state attorney, the judge has called for Messi to stand trial on the three counts alongside his father, according to court documents released on Thursday. AS report lawyers acting on behalf of the tax authorities are recommending 22 and a half months incarceration.
Messi and his father paid the Spanish authorities a 'corrective payment' of £3.7m after they were formally charged in June 2013.
It is alleged that Jorge Messi avoided paying tax on his son's earnings by using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay between 2007 and 2009. While the footballer's lawyers have stressed their client was unaware of any wrongdoing, the judge has found "there are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties," according to AFP.