On trial Barcelona star Lionel Messi denies knowledge of tax issues that could land him in jail

 
Joe Hall
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Barcelona's Leo Messi Testifies In Fraud Case
Messi told the court he had no knowledge of the tax issues that have landed him in trouble (Source: Getty)

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi claimed he was unaware of how his financial affairs were handled after taking the stand for the first time in his trial for tax fraud.

The world's highest paid footballer and his father Jorge Messi have been accused of defrauding Spain of more than £3m between 2007 and 2009 by using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay.

In response to a grilling from a Spanish public prosecutor, Messi claimed he "didn't know anything" about the corporate structures alleged to have been created to decrease his tax bill and when he signed the related documents he did so on the advice of father Jorge and his lawyers.

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"I just played football," Messi told the judge in Barcelona. "I signed the contracts because I trusted my dad and the lawyers and we had decided that they would take charge of those things.

"I didn't know about it. I never asked my dad about these things. I signed the contract because I trusted my dad and because the lawyers said that we should do it this way."

The trial finishes tomorrow to be followed by judgement and sentencing next week.

If found guilty, state prosecutors want Messi to serve a 22 month jail sentence, but the Argentina forward would more likely be faced with a large fine.

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