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Lionel Messi faces fraud lawsuit

Barcelona's Lionel Messi and his father are accused by Spanish tax authorities of defrauding the state of millions.

Last Modified: 12 Jun 2013 19:06
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Messi is one of the world's richest sports stars with a salary of just over $20 million a season [Reuters]

A lawsuit against Lionel Messi for fraud in unpaid income tax amounting to $5.3 million was lodged by a state prosecutor for the northeastern region of Catalonia on Wednesday.

The complaint, signed by prosecutor Raquel Amado, was submitted for trial at the courthouse in Gava, the upscale Barcelona suburb near the Mediterranean coast where the Argentina forward lives.

The prosecutor brings a lawsuit against Barcelona star Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi.

Both are accused of three offenses against the public purse for allegedly defrauding more than $5.3 million in income tax returns relating to the years 2007, 2008 and 2009.

A judge at the courthouse must accept the prosecutor's lawsuit beforecharges can be brought against Messi and his father.

Barcelona declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Messi, who will be 26 this month, is one of the world's highest-paid athletes with a salary of just over $20 million a season, according to Forbes magazine.

On top of his Barca wages, he pulls in around $21 million in endorsements from sponsors including Adidas, PepsiCo and P&G and he is 10th on Forbes' latest list of top-earning athletes.

Messi is enjoying a day off after playing for his national team in Quito,where Argentina was held to 1-1 by Ecuador in a qualifying match for the World Cup.

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has said Messi was expected to be included in the lineup for a friendly against Guatemala on Friday.

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