Spanish court to prosecute Lionel Messi for alleged tax evasion

By Mike Singer | CBSSports.com

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It hasn't been a good month for Lionel Messi. (Getty Images)

A Spanish court will proceed with its prosecution of Barcelona star Lionel Messi, who, along with his father, is accused of multimillion-dollar tax evasion from 2007-2009.

The judge denied a prosecutor's request to have the charges dropped against the Argentinian star, claiming in a statement that there was “sufficient evidence” that suggests Messi “could have known and consented” to the scheme. Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, are suspected of defrauding Spain of more than $5 million by way of a complicated network of shell companies, which allegedly helped evade taxes as a result of income from the use of Messi's image.

Both Messis were accused last year of filing false returns, and both have denied their roles.

The court's statement detailed how it wasn't essential for Messi to know the exact numbers, but rather just the idea that his father intended to defraud the state. Messi didn't have “to have full knowledge of all accounting or corporate transactions or the exact amount of the fraud,” for him to be aware of the scheme, the court asserted.

Messi's father paid more than $6 million in August of 2013 for the alleged unpaid taxes, plus interest, according to the AP.

Messi is the fourth-highest paid athlete in the world, according to Forbes. His salary rounds out at almost $65 million per year, of which $23 million comes from endorsements.

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