The father of Argentina star Lionel Messi could face 18 months in prison for fiscal fraud following a request by the Barcelona public prosecutor on Tuesday.
Messi himself, however, will not face charges after being exonerated of all accusations, with the prosecutor saying he had blindly followed his father’s “instructions”.
According to the charge sheet published on Tuesday, Barcelona forward Messi was not aware of the fraud committed by his father, Jorge Horacio, who has managed the footballer’s affairs since he was a child.
The pair were accused in 2013 of defrauding the taxman out of 4.16 million euros ($4.69 million) in taxes related to Messi’s image rights between 2007 and 2009 through the creation of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay.
After studying the possibility that the footballer could have avoided any financial irregularities concerning documents bearing his signature, the court decided Messi did not know the details of how his earnings were being chanelled, nor how tax payments had been avoided.
Four-time world player of the year Messi is the fourth richest sportsman in the world, according to Forbes magazine which estimates he earns $64.7 million a year.
Messi’s older brother Matias, 32, was briefly detained in Argentina on Sunday after he was found with a revolver in the glove compartment of his car.
He allegedly came to blows with the arresting officers and suffered a facial injury while two police officers were also hurt in the foot and knee.
He had already been charged with illegal possession of a firearm in 2008.