Messi charity fraud charges dropped

A Barcelona judge has dropped charges against Lionel Messi relating to alleged tax fraud in charity matches.

A report in September released by El Pais claimed that charity games in Peru and Chicago in 2012 and 2013 – billed as ‘Messi and his friends vs. the Rest of the World’ and ‘The Battle of the Stars’ – were used to defraud Spain’s tax office.

Spanish authorities launched an investigation but, following witness statements given by match organiser Guillermo Javier Martin, a judge has ruled that there is no evidence to support claims that Messi or his charity foundation received profit from the games.

As quoted by Sport, the judge described how Martin’s “clear and extensive” statement explained that Messi played in each game for free and only received compensation to cover travel and accommodation expenses.

“There is no indication, nor any accountable document that affirms a possible fraud against the Treasury through these charity matches,” the judge confirmed.

The case is unrelated to further allegations of tax fraud against Messi and his father relating to a period between 2007 and 2009.

The Argentina international and his father are accused of defrauding Spain of close to €4.1million, allegations which both men have strenuously denied.