Court date for Messi, accused of £3.4m tax fraud

BARCELONA superstar Lionel Messi has been summoned to appear in court on 17 September accused of three counts of tax fraud, which, if proven, could land him a six-year prison sentence.

Argentinian Messi, together with his father Jorge Horacio Messi, deny accusations of tax avoidance for financial years 2007, 2008 and 2009 amounting to £3.4m by transferring income earned on image rights to third parties based in tax havens Belize and Uruguay.

Messi was ranked 10th among American business magazine Forbes’ latest list of sports stars’ incomes and is said to earn a net salary from Spanish champions Barcelona of £13.1m per year.

The income related to the 25-year-old’s image rights includes earnings of more than £13.5m from various endorsements.