Spanish tax authorities have accused soccer player Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio, of $5.3 million worth of tax fraud. Both men are under investigation by the state prosecutor's office in the northeastern region of Catalonia for unpaid income tax.
The star forward for Barcelona's football team, who was named World Player of the Year, allegedly filed fraudulent tax returns for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, according to a spokesman for the Catalonia prosecutor's office for tax crimes.
The 25-year-old Argentinian international earns more than $20 million a season and is ranked tenth on Forbes' list of top-earning athletes. He also receives about $21 million in endorsements from Adidas AG (ETR:ADS), PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE:PEP) and the Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG).
"We have just known through the media about the claim filed by the Spanish tax authorities," Messi said in a statement released via his Facebook page. "We are surprised about the news, because we have never committed any infringement."
A judge at the courthouse in Gava, the upscale Barcelona suburb where Messi lives, will have to accept prosecutor Raquel Amado's lawsuit in order to officially charge Messi and Horacio.