WINNER: Messi nets elusive prize

LIONEL Messi’s tax fraud trial has begun in Spain.

The Barcelona and Argentina football star and his father Jorge, who manages his financial affairs, are accused of defrauding Spain of more then €4m between 2007 and 2009.

Authorities claim the pair used tax havens Belize and Uruguary to hide their earnings from image rights.

While the Hacienda is calling for heavy fines and prison time, they both deny any wrongdoing.

Leniency could be shown given that the amounts concerned have since been paid to the Hacienda voluntarily, and no bail was set because of the high amount of collaboration between the accused and the investigators.

Additionally, the public prosecution service recommended the case against Messi be dropped, as it is possible his father carried out the offence without him knowing.

Messi will appear before the court in Barcelona on Thursday.

The trial is expected to last three days.


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