Skip to content

Lionel Messi investigated on accusations of tax evasion

Jun 12, 2013, 10:35 AM EST

Messi has scored 37 goals in 83 games for Argentina. Although that's impressive, it's nowhere near his sensational form for Barcelona. Getty Images

Barcelona newspaper El Periodico is reporting that Spanish authorities have targeted Lionel Messi and his father Jorge on suspicions of tax fraud and tax evasion.

The paper cites a €13 million ($17.3 million) figure owed by the Argentinian superstar, although subsequent reports in other media outlets have set the target more around €4 million ($5.3 million).

The paper cites a source which describes the deliberate evasion process by Messi as having been channeled through a process which sounds eerily similar to money laundering.

The source says the dodge “consisted of simulating the assignment of image rights to front companies based in tax havens [Belize, Uruguay] and, at the same time, formalising contracts of licensing, agency or benefit from services between these companies, and other such instruments domiciled in convenient jurisdictions [the UK, Switzerland]. This was done with the intended and successful aim that the incomes would move from countries where the companies or entities were based, to companies domiciled in tax havens, without being submitted to any taxation and, furthermore, with total opacity towards the Spanish Tax Authorities. The beneficiary of these incomes was no other than the person served – Lionel A. Messi.”

The period in question is apparently between 2007-2009.

UPDATE: Messi released a post on his official Facebook page denying the allegations. “We have just known through the media about the claim filed by the Spanish tax authorities. We are surprised about those news, because we have never committed any infringement. We have always fulfilled all our tax obligations, following the advices of our Tax Consultants who will take care of clarifying this situation.” Barcelona refused to comment on the situation.

Forbes ranks Messi as the 10th-highest paid athlete in the world at $41.3 million earned last year between salary, endorsements, and the like.

The case, at least in the beginning stages, will be brought to court in the Catalan town of Gava where Messi is registered for taxes.

The 25-year-old has been with the Argentinian national side, making an appearance as a substitute in Argentina’s 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Ecuador. His country has all but wrapped up a spot in Brazil 2014, sitting atop the CONMEBOL table with 26 points. Argentina are scheduled to play a friendly with Guatemala on Friday.

Latest Posts
  1. Monday’s transfer rumor roundup: Canada youngster to West Ham, 3-team fight for Coentrao

    Dec 22, 2014, 7:37 PM EST

    doneil_henry AP

    The gossip is heating up ahead of the transfer window reopening in 10 days time. Here’s your latest dose of rumors…

  2. Freddy Adu leaves Serbian club FK Jagodina, is a free agent once again

    Dec 22, 2014, 6:39 PM EST

    Philadelphia Union v Toronto FC Getty Images

    Freddy Adu has been released. Again. He is free to sign with any club in the world. Again.

  3. Italian Super Cup: Napoli topple Juventus in PKs to lift second trophy of 2014

    Dec 22, 2014, 5:56 PM EST

    Juventus FC v SSC Napoli - 2014 Italian Super Cup Getty Images

    90 and 120 minutes weren’t enough to crown an Italian Super Cup champion, but nine rounds of penalties did the trick.

  4. Premier League Playback: When will Arsenal, Liverpool snap out of their funk?

    Dec 22, 2014, 5:34 PM EST

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look at Week 17 in the PL.

  5. Stoke City 0-2 Chelsea: Terry, Fabregas score as Blues regain Premier League’s top spot

    Dec 22, 2014, 5:12 PM EST

    Stoke City v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    Another professional performance from Jose Mourinho’s men has Chelsea back atop the Premier League.

  6. 2014’s Top Ten moments in Premier League – Numbers 5-1

    Dec 22, 2014, 3:28 PM EST

    Will Liverpool's late collapse prove pivotal? AP

    Want to know PST’s top moments of 2014 in the PL? Of course you do. Well, here they are.

  7. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Chelsea (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Dec 22, 2014, 2:26 PM EST

    Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    Watch the Potters take on the leaders at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  8. UEFA rankings: Real Madrid finish 2014 on top, but who else excelled?

    Dec 22, 2014, 1:47 PM EST

    Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. are the top dogs in European soccer after a stellar 2014. But who else is in the top 20?

  9. 2014’s Top Ten moments in Premier League – Numbers 10-6

    Dec 22, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Head butts, highlights and heroism from a memorable year of Premier League.

  10. NBC Sports to air first-ever “Premier League Breakaway” show on New Year’s Day

    Dec 22, 2014, 12:10 PM EST

    nbcsports1 (1)

    All the details here, as 30 PL games in seven days will be capped off in style to see in the New Year.

  11. Premier League preview: Stoke City vs. Chelsea

    Dec 22, 2014, 11:58 AM EST

    U.S. international, left, has become a regular for the Potters and is loving life in the Premier League. He had a big hand as Stoke famously beat Chelsea to ignite their season. Getty Images

    Can Cameron’s Stoke City beat Chelsea for the second-straight season? Watch live on NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET.

  12. Jonas Gutierrez plays first game for Newcastle since beating testicular cancer

    Dec 22, 2014, 11:04 AM EST

    Gutierrez Getty Images

    After surgery and chemotherapy, Jonas made his return for Newcastle on Monday.

  13. Brendan Rodgers: Liverpool can still finish in the top four

    Dec 22, 2014, 10:11 AM EST

    Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    Rodgers confident his side can go on a run and re-write the PL history books.

  14. DeAndre Yedlin granted work permit, heading to Tottenham Hotspur

    Dec 22, 2014, 8:30 AM EST

    Source: Tottenham Hotspur Source: Tottenham Hotspur

    No need for a Latvian passport, as Yedlin is granted UK work permit.

  15. Geoff Cameron: Eden Hazard is “best I’ve played against” in Premier League

    Dec 22, 2014, 7:55 AM EST

    Eden Hazard, Geoff Cameron Eden Hazard, Geoff Cameron

    Geoff on how to stop Chelsea, marking Hazard and the busy festive period in the Premier League.

  16. Antoine Griezmann bursts into the spotlight as Atletico downs Bilbao

    Dec 21, 2014, 11:59 PM EST

    Antoine+Griezmann+Getafe+CF+v+Club+Atletico+wVX6J_Xdokul

    Antoine Griezmann breaks out with three goals in Atletico’s 4-1 result over Athletic Bilbao.

  17. A day of Ronaldo: Real Madrid star erects statue of himself, thinks Real can win Champions League again

    Dec 21, 2014, 10:21 PM EST

    FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-BARCELONA FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-BARCELONA

    Cristiano Ronaldo has made headlines twice today, for erecting a statue of himself and claiming Real Madrid could repeat in the Champions League.

  18. WATCH: Tim Howard discusses autobiography ‘The Keeper’

    Dec 21, 2014, 8:17 PM EST

    tim_howard Getty Images

    Tim Howard converses about his recently released autobiography, “The Keeper.”

  19. Eyeing France national team call-up, AC Milan’s Jérémy Ménez keeps showing off his skills

    Dec 21, 2014, 7:40 PM EST

    Jeremy+Menez+qojlhLjziL0m Getty Images

    Jeremy Menez has done a fantastic job as AC Milan’s primary attacker, and he’s primarily aiming for the French national team call-up.

Featured video

JPW's top five PL moments of 2014