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SBD Global/September 27, 2013/Finance
Lionel Messi To Face Court After Plea To Drop Tax Evasion Case Fails
Published September 27, 2013
SPAIN'S 'NASTY' REGULATIONS: BLOOMBERG's Staley & Duff reported the case against Messi, who holds dual citizenship in Argentina and Spain, "is part of an aggressive push by Spain, U.K. and other deficit-ridden governments to tackle tax evasion" in Europe’s €19.4B football industry. After decades of "coddling Europe’s most popular -- and politically influential -- sport, authorities are pursuing players and teams that collectively owe billions of euros in unpaid taxes." British accountant Alistair Spence Clarke, who works in Marbella, Spain, said the Messi case "is definitely a statement of Spain today." Clarke added, "Spain has introduced some pretty nasty tax avoidance regulations. It’s really becoming very aggressive." Tax lawyers in Spain "expressed surprise that Messi would be drawn into a criminal court." Spanish attorney Rodrigo Garcia, who represents other players, said that, normally, "the revenue service begins with a civil inquiry and offers the accused an opportunity to settle." Messi "denied any wrongdoing." Messi’s father, Jorge, "placed the blame" on sports agent Rodolfo Schinocca, hired by the family in '05. Jorge Messi said, "Lionel was 15 years at the time; he didn’t have anything to do with this. He is a footballer and that’s it. If there was an error, it was by our financial adviser. He created the company. My mistake was to have trusted the adviser. I’m going to take the blame for that. I had confidence in someone I shouldn’t have had." In an email from Argentina, Schinocca said that "he had nothing to do with Messi’s taxes and was asked instead to help secure sponsorship deals." Schinocca said that "he hasn’t been contacted by prosecutors in the Messi case." Schinocca: "I never employed this structure for any soccer player. It wasn’t my job. I was a commercial partner" (BLOOMBERG, 9/26).