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JUSTICE

Messi takes a step closer to settling his €4.1 million tax fraud case

It would cost him about nine million euros if he decides to pay during the next two months

Jesús García Bueno

Lionel Messi’s lawyers met Barcelona prosecutors on Friday to see if they can settle the soccer star’s tax case, in which auditors claim he defrauded the government of some 4.1 million euros.

The lawyers told prosecutors that the Barça player is willing to settle what he owes including paying a fine and pleading guilty to the charges, sources said.

Last month, Messi and his father Jorge Horacio were formally targeted as tax-fraud suspects and summoned to appear before a judge in Barcelona on September 17. The charges are related to a failure to declare part of the star’s earnings from his image rights in tax declarations made between 2007 and 2009.

Under the law, if Messi decides to settle his tax bill within two months since he was named in the investigation, he could stand to pay a smaller amount of what he owes plus a reduced fine.

Friday’s meeting “was the first of many contacts” his lawyers will have with prosecutors, according to a source close to the case. Before the next meeting, his lawyers, Cristóbal Martell and Ángel Juárez, who is a tax expert, will have to sit down with officials at the Attorney General’s Office to formally present an offer on behalf of their client and discuss what terms they can reach.

According to judicial sources, if Messi decides to pay during the next two months, it would cost him about nine million euros: the 4.1 million he reportedly defrauded; a four-million-euro fine; and an additional one million in interest.

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