Barcelona’s star striker Lionel Messi has appeared in court over an alleged €4 million tax fraud.
He is accused, alongside his father Jorge, of hiding the money by filing incomplete tax returns between 2006 and 2009.
The pair, who deny any wrongdoing, arrived in court separately to answer charges of tax evasion on income earned from the sale of the player’s image rights.
Cristóbal Martell, the pair’s lawyer, said after the court hearing: “We have proved the absence of intent to defraud and a clear will to set the matter straight with the State Agency for Tax Administration, in order to avoid any big fight with the state.”
The pair have already made a “corrective payment” to Spanish
authorities of just over €5m.
In a written petition to the judge last August, Martell said Messi’s father assumed full responsibility for his son’s tax situation, distancing the player from any direct involvement.
The judge will now determine whether or not to dismiss the charges or impose a fine. A spokesperson for the Superior Court said the ruling “should not take long”.