Five time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi and his father Jorge appeared in court today June 2, 2016, over tax fraud evasion.
The duo have been charged with three counts of tax fraud up to €4.1million. Messi reportedly tried to avoid trial on grounds that his father handled his tax payments. However, a state attorney ordered both of them to appear.
The Barcelona superstar arrived court personally alongside his father barely three days before Copa America match against Chile on June 6.
Leo has claimed he did not read critical documents before signing them but Spanish authorities are asking that both father and son serve nearly two years in prison.
“I was playing football, I knew nothing,” he said.
“I never asked my dad about these things,” Messi is quoted as telling the court by AS.
“The truth is that, as I said before, I trusted him and the lawyers. I didn’t know anything about it, I just played football.”
When questioned about the existence of a company called Jenbril, registered in Uruguay to handle payments relating to his image rights, Messi said: “I didn’t know I was a member and manager of this company, I signed it because he (father) said so and I trusted him and the lawyers.
“All I knew was that I was signing a deal with sponsors to do adverts, photo shoots and things like that.
“I remember we went to a notary but I was 18 when I signed it and as you can imagine, I was in a different world. I don’t remember anything about it.”
The moment Messi appeared at the court
The trial began on Tuesday, and Thursday June 2 is expected to be the final day. The judges’ decisions would be announced in a week time.