Football: Judge dismisses Messi tax fraud case relating to charity friendlies

AFP - Barcelona star Lionel Messi has avoided another embarrassing court case for tax fraud after he and his foundation were cleared on Monday of allegations relating to charitable friendlies played in 2012 and 2013.

Messi is already facing a seperate tax fraud charge along with his father for allegedly failing to declare 4.16 million euros (S$6.45 million) in taxes related to his image rights between 2007 and 2009.

The four-time World Player of the Year was being investigated to see if he had failed to declare to the tax man any revenue made from taking part in a series of friendlies in Mexico, Colombia, the United States and Peru.

However, after hearing testimony from the Argentine businessman, Guillermo Javier Marin, who organised the matches, the judge dismissed the case.

"There is no indication (of tax fraud) or documentation of its possible existence that would support the continuation of the investigation," a court filing said.

Marin said he never paid Messi to take part in the games, but rather compensated his presence by picking up the bill for hotel stays and first-class flights for Messi and his family for the matches in question.