Football star Lionel Messi compared to crime boss

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messi-court.jpgSpanish prosecutors called Friday for Lionel Messi to be absolved on the final day of his tax fraud trial, but the lawyer representing fiscal authorities disagreed, comparing him to a "crime boss."

The Argentina and Barcelona star and his father Jorge Horacio Messi have been accused of using companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros ($4.6 million) of Messi's income earned from his image rights from 2007-09.

Prosecutor Raquel Amado called for the footballer to be let off in her closing arguments, a day after he took the stand and said he trusted his father with his finances and "knew nothing" about how his wealth was managed.

"There is no evidence that anyone explained anything to him," she said.

But Mario Maza, the state attorney representing tax authorities in the trial, said he found it unlikely that Messi knew nothing about the situation.

"There is no deliberate ignorance here, it's fraud and that's all there is to it, because he didn't want to pay his taxes," he said.

"It's like a crime boss. At the very top is the bigwig who doesn't want to know about the details."

He is seeking a fine equivalent to the amount that was allegedly defrauded, plus a prison sentence of 22 and a half months for Messi and his father.

Any such prison sentence would likely be suspended as is common in Spain for first offences carrying a sentence of less than two years.

Source: (AFP)