Lionel Messi Will Pay $32.7 Million to Settle Tax Case, ABC Says

Lionel Messi, the four-time world soccer player of the year, is close to reaching an agreement with public prosecutors in Spain that will avoid him facing trial for alleged tax evasion, ABC newspaper reported.

The 26-year-old Argentine, who has played for Barcelona since 2003, is planning to pay a total of 25 million euros ($32.7 million) to tax authorities, ABC reported, without saying where it got the information.

Public prosecutor Raquel Amado filed a complaint June 12 that said Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio, had evaded 4.2 million euros of income tax between 2007 and 2009 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 will pay 15 million euros corresponding to 2007 to 2009 -- the years being investigated -- and 10 million euros for 2010 and 2011, according to ABC.

Jose Miguel Company, a spokesman for the public prosecutors’ office in Barcelona, said as of late yesterday there was no agreement with Messi and his father. Messi’s lawyer Angel Juarez didn’t immediately return a call to his office in Barcelona seeking comment.

Messi denied wrongdoing in a post on his Facebook page on June 12 that said he had always fulfilled his tax obligations. He 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.

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