Messi hands €5m 'corrective payment' to Spanish tax man
Barcelona star forks out in effort to resolve tax evasion dispute - but still faces court hearing
BARCELONA striker Lionel Messi has paid €5m (£4.2m) to the Spanish authorities as part of a "corrective payment" after being accused of filing false tax returns.
The allegations against Messi were made in June when the Spanish tax man accused the 26-year-old Argentine - a Spanish citizen since 2005 - and his father, Jorge, of establishing a "complex network of companies based in Britain, Switzerland, Belize and Uruguay" in order to conceal the true extent of Messi's earnings.
As The Guardian reports, the alleged evasion concerned the sale of rights to use the player's image. A writ was lodged in Gava, the affluent seaside suburb outside Barcelona where Messi resides.
The player has always denied any wrongdoing, telling reporters in July: "I never take care of that stuff myself and neither does my father. We have our lawyers and our wealth managers to take care of that and we trust them and they will sort this out. The truth is that I don't have a clue about all this and that is why we have people taking care of it."
It's now been confirmed by the court in Gava that the two Messis made a payment of €5,016,542.27 last month. However, their presence is still required at court on 17 September. Messi's lawyers have asked for a postponement because the player is scheduled to play for Barcelona the following day against Ajax in their opening Champions League fixture.
A report in Spain's El País newspaper suggests that Messi's father could assume full responsibility for the tax fraud, thus "exonerating" his son.
Despite handing over the eye-watering sum, Messi's finances are still in good shape. Earlier in the year he came in tenth on the annual Forbes list of the world's richest athletes, earning $41.3m last year, of which $20m came from endorsements. He recently signed a new contract with Barcelona, said to for around £8.5m a year. ·