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Volume 6 No. 234


Lionel Messi and his father "will have to testify in court" over allegations they committed a €4M ($5.3M) tax fraud, after a Spanish judge "accepted a court filing from the prosecution and declared the two men formal suspects in the case," according to Tobias Buck of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The Argentina-born striker for FC Barcelona "is alleged to have channelled earnings from the sale of his image rights through tax havens such as Belize and Uruguay." A court statement said that Messi and his father Jorge "will be questioned in a court in Gava, a town close to Barcelona," on Sept. 17. Prosecutors alleged in a court filing published last week that Messi "had committed tax infringements" in '07, '08 and '09. None of the legal steps taken against the two men so far "constitute a formal charge" (FT, 6/20). In London, Graham Keeley reported court documents say prosecutors claimed that Messi’s father "was the brains behind the alleged fraud, which was said to have started before the player was 18" (LONDON TIMES, 6/20).

HOLDING COURT: The BBC reported the "income related to his image rights included contracts with Banco Sabadell, Danone, adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Proctor and Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company." Spain's news agency EFE said that "if he is convicted, Messi could face up to six years in prison and a big fine" (BBC, 6/20). The AP reported court officials said that Messi and his father "will have to appear in person for the session that will be closed to the public." The timing of the court appearance "could coincide with Barcelona's opening game in the Champions League," set to be played on either Sept. 17 or 18. Messi "has denied wrongdoing." He "has received public backing" from Barcelona club President Sandro Rosell and former President Joan Laporta, "who was in charge during the years of the alleged fraud" (AP, 6/20).

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov said that he "plans to retain" his almost 30% stake in EPL Arsenal because "it’s a good investment," according to Fedorinova, Chilcote & Khrennikov of BLOOMBERG. Usmanov said, "Why do I need to change my status, which gives me major benefits, from the investment side and my enjoyment of the club. I enjoy the games." American Stan Kroenke, who took control of the north London club in '11, "has not put Usmanov nor his business partner Farhad Moshiri, the club’s second biggest investors, on the board." Usmanov has "criticized Kroenke for not spending money on players and said he wouldn’t dictate strategy at Arsenal should be be able to take control." Usmanov said, "I can’t dictate," even "if I had the possibility, it’s not my style" (BLOOMBERG, 6/20).