Photo: Lionel Messi
The judge investigating allegations of tax fraud against Messi decided against setting bail considering the soccer star’s global status and solvency and the payment that his father and co-defendant, Jorge Messi, made in August to tax authorities, the court said.
The judge said the payment, deposited into the Treasury on Aug. 14, corresponded to tax charges and related interest and made it unlikely Leo or Jorge Messi would withhold funds during the course of the legal proceedings.
The defendants are accused of defrauding the Spanish state of some 4.1 million euros ($5.4 million) in taxes on income from endorsements that Messi allegedly failed to report on his 2007, 2008 and 2009 tax returns.
Messi, a four-time world player of the year, and his father are due to appear in court for questioning on Sept. 17.
In mid-June, Messi paid an additional 10 million euros in addendums to his 2010 and 2011 tax returns, which also were being investigated.
Prosecutors say Messi’s father arranged for large sums paid for use of the player’s image in countries including Britain and Switzerland to be transferred to shell corporations domiciled in tax havens such as Belize and Uruguay.
The purported fraud scheme was orchestrated by Jorge Messi, according to prosecutors, who allege that he entrusted a third party to create an initial shell corporation for tax-evasion purposes when his son was still a minor.