Lionel Messi tax trial dates altered for Copa America

Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi`s trial for tax fraud has been reset to its initial start date of May 31 after an earlier change in the schedule threatened his participation in June`s Copa America in the United States.

AFP| Last Updated: Apr 06, 2016, 19:40 PM IST
Lionel Messi tax trial dates altered for Copa America

Barcelona: Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi`s trial for tax fraud has been reset to its initial start date of May 31 after an earlier change in the schedule threatened his participation in June`s Copa America in the United States.

The initial decision to delay the start of the trial till June 7 would have seen Messi at least miss Argentina`s opening group game against reigning champions Chile in Santa Clara, California, on June 6.

However, a judicial source said on Wednesday that the trial would start as scheduled on May 31 after a "misunderstanding" regarding the dates without offering further details.

Messi and his father Jorge have been charged with tax fraud for allegedly failing to declare 4.16 million euros ($4.74 million) in taxes related to his image rights between 2007 and 2009 through front companies in Belize and Uruguay.

The pair also released a statement on Monday fiercely denying further claims of tax evasion after Messi was one of a series of high-profile names accused of shady offshore dealings in the Panama Papers scandal.

Spanish prosecutors are seeking a jail sentence of 22-and-a-half months for the five-time World Player of the Year.

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