Lionel Messi’s dad, Jorge, says the claims that he and the Barcelona superstar defrauded the Spanish government of €4 million in taxes are a “mistake.”
On Wednesday the news broke that Messi and his father are accused of secreting unpaid taxes away in various off-shore locations from 2007 to 2009.
El Periodico has reported that the hidden money was from image rights Messi had been paid by Barcelona.
But Jorge, who is named in the prosecutor’s documents because his son was underage at the time in question, is adamant that he and his son are innocent of tax evasion, a crime punishable by jail time and heavy fines in Spain.
"This is all a mistake," he told AS.
"It should have been spoken about with the accountants and legal people, who will clear it up.
"I have already spoken with our lawyers so that they resolve this, but I do not understand anything that is happening. I do not look after these matters - I am a resident of Argentina.
"I have not yet spoken with Leo. I do not need to, as this is a mistake. Why would I go and scare him?"
Messi’s lawyers meanwhile, also insist that he is innocent, and that they have had no official interaction with the Spanish tax authorities.
"We want to express our surprise at the news published in the media, given that neither our client nor ourselves have received any notification from the tax authorities in relation to what has been published,” a legal spokesperson told Marca.
"[Lionel Messi] has always followed punctually his tax obligations, and will continue to do so in future.
"As his legal and tax advisors, we will take all the appropriate legal actions against the claim from the tax authorities, and we trust fully in justice."