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Lionel Messi Pays $13 Million in Back Taxes, Vanguardia Says

Lionel Messi, the four-time world soccer player of the year who’s being investigated for alleged tax evasion, paid 10 million euros ($13.1 million) to correct his tax situation for 2010 and 2011, La Vanguardia reported.

The payment to Spain’s tax authority could mean Messi is seeking to settle the judicial probe he is involved in relating to 2007, 2008 and 2009, the Barcelona-based newspaper said, citing unidentified people familiar with the case.

Public prosecutor Raquel Amado filed a complaint June 12 that said Messi and his father had evaded 4.2 million euros of taxes by routing income from endorsement deals with Adidas AG, PepsiCo Inc., Danone SA and his club, Barcelona, through companies in the U.K. and Switzerland to Uruguay.

Messi, a 26-year-old Argentine who’s played for Barcelona since 2003, denied wrongdoing in a post on his Facebook page on June 12 that said he had always fulfilled his tax obligations.

He and his father, Jorge Horacio, are scheduled to appear in court near Barcelona on Sept. 17.

Messi was soccer’s best-paid player after David Beckham last year with 35 million euros of salary and endorsements, according to a list compiled France Football magazine in March. Beckham, 38, quit pro soccer in May.

Luis Gonzalez, a spokesman for Spain’s tax authority, said he was unable to comment on individual cases. Pablo Negre, commercial director of Leo Messi Management, didn’t immediately return a call and e-mail seeking comment on the newspaper report.

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