“Messi would still appear as a witness, but his name has been cleared of wrongdoing,” he pronounced, as it turned out, wrong on every point on which he pronounced.
It was Kelly Phillips Erb of the infinitely more reputable Forbes, that told us what happened. “Earlier this week, El Pais reported that the prosecution would drop criminal tax charges against the soccer star and only move forward against Messi’s father. However, according to court documents made public today, that request was overruled. El Pais now reports that “acting in opposition” to the Fiscalía (Forbes compares this to the DA) the higher state authority wants the case to proceed.
“The Treasury,” Forbes tells us, “believes that Messi acted consciously and voluntarily). Prosecutors in the case had originally found that Messi’s father, Jorge Horacio Messi, was solely responsible for the alleged fraud… The judge has decided that Lionel Messi and his father Jorge will both stand trial for three counts of tax fraud. The latest indication is that Messi and his father could each face a jail sentence of 22 months and 15 days together with a fine of €4.1 million”.
So it is alleged that income from deals with Pepsi-Cola, Procter and Gamble, and Adidas were routed through a maze of companies in Belize, Uruguay, the U.K. and Switzerland.
Now what is very interesting, and what the Telegraph, Independent and Bleacher and others could have asked is this: Did the prosecutor in the case actually argue that Lionel Messi should not have to answer the charges as his father oversaw his finances? That seems bizarre. The defence might suggest that, but surely not the prosecution.
But if the Telegraph, Indy and Bleacher got it right and the case was dropped by the prosecution, why would that be? It can’t really be because the prosecution thought there was no evidence to bring a prosecution, because the court felt there was. If there is any chance of there being a case the prosecution brings a case and lets the judge decide.
And besides, the court had previously ruled that Messi could have known about and approved the creation of a web of shell companies that were allegedly used to evade taxes on income from image rights because there were clear traces of the money turning up in the aforementioned Uruguay, Belize, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, according to the prosecutor’s office.
It is difficult to know why such a complete messi was made of the reporting, but it is one more clear indication that even the serious press is no longer bothering with any sort of investigation in its reporting, especially when stuff happens in foreign places involving foreigners.
Or could it be that they simply fell foul of the propaganda machine that surround Messi?
Certainly we have seen occasions before of both the Independent and the Telegraph taking press releases and publishing them as if they were the result of investigative journalism. Indeed the Indy was caught out doing this with Barcelona’s special pleading against the transfer ban for child trafficking. The Telegraph did it with a statement from PGMO about video refs after Walter revealed PGMO’s intransigence following initiatives in the Netherlands.
Perhaps overall it is best not to believe anything you read in the press. Or the blogettas.
Untold’s all right though.
Most of the time.
Messi is 10th on Forbes Magazine’s list of the world’s highest-earning athletes over the past decade with income of $350m.
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