Barcelona – The father of Argentine soccer icon Lionel Messi said in a letter to the Spanish court hearing a tax fraud case against the FC Barcelona forward that his son had no part in any scheme to hide income.
The striker "has always dedicated himself solely to playing soccer," Jorge Horacio Messi, who is also his son's agent, said in the letter.
Lionel Messi and his father paid 5 million euros ($6.6 million) to the Spanish treasury authorities for income from endorsements that the four-time world player of the year allegedly failed to report on his 2007, 2008 and 2009 tax returns, the superior court for the Catalonia region said last Wednesday.
In mid-June, Lionel Messi paid an additional 10 million euros in addendums to his 2010 and 2011 tax returns, which also were being investigated.
Despite the payments, Messi and his father must still appear in court Sept. 27 to answer questions from the judge, though Jorge's letter appears to make it more likely the charges against his son will be shelved.
Prosecutors say Messi's father arranged for large sums paid for use of the player's image to be transferred to shell corporations domiciled in tax havens such as Belize and Uruguay.
The scheme was orchestrated by Jorge Messi, according to prosecutors, who say he entrusted a third party to create an initial shell corporation for tax-evasion purposes when his son was still a minor.