Lionel Messi has been formally charged with tax fraud, according to Spanish media.
Reports emerged from Europa Press on Thursday that the Barcelona star has been summoned to court on accusations of defrauding more than four million euros.
The Argentine had previously denied the allegations, which were lodged by the Economic Crimes Prosecutor Barcelona on June 12.
Messi’s father Jorge has also been implicated in the case, with both men reportedly scheduled to appear
in court on September 17.
The claims circulate around alleged unpaid tax relating to sales of Messi’s image rights. The 25-year-old is said to have avoided the charges by operating through companies based outside of Spain.
If found guilty, the FIFA Ballon d’Or winner faces a maximum penalty of six years in prison.
Messi’s represenatives are yet to comment on the latest developments, but the forward professed his innocence strenously upon learning of the allegations earlier in the month.
“We have learned through the media about the claim filed by the Spanish tax authorities. We are surprised about this news, because we have not committed any infringement,” he said in a statement.
“We have always fulfilled all of our tax obligations, following the advice of our tax consultants, who will take care of clarifying this situation.”
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