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Ex-Barcelona president says Messi paid his taxes

Thursday - 6/13/2013, 12:13pm  ET

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2013 file photo, Barcelona's Lionel Messi from Argentina reacts after losing the Copa del Rey soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain. A state prosecutor for the northeastern region of Catalonia has lodged on Wednesday June 12, 2013, a lawsuit against Lionel Messi for fraud in unpaid income tax amounting to euro4 million ($5.3 million). The complaint, signed by prosecutor Raquel Amado, has been submitted for trial at the courthouse in Gava, the upscale Barcelona district where the Argentina forward lives. The document, presented to the court on Wednesday, brings a lawsuit against Barcelona star Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi.(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

JOSEPH WILSON
Associated Press

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta is defending Lionel Messi against allegations of tax fraud, a case that experts say could carry a prison sentence for the Argentina star.

A Spanish state prosecutor filed a fraud complaint on Wednesday alleging that Messi and his father Jorge avoided paying 4 million euros ($5.3 million) in back taxes through illegal overseas tax havens.

Laporta told Cope radio he is "convinced that they have not committed any irregularity."

Laporta's presidency coincided with the period the complaint covers from 2006-09.

If found guilty and barring an out-of-court deal with the tax office, Messi and his father could face 2-6 years in jail, according to Professor Sandalio Gomez, a sports finance analyst at the IESE Business School.


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