Argentinean soccer star Lionel Messi is facing the possibility of jail time after a Spanish judge turned down a request by prosecutors to drop the tax fraud charges against him.
Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, have been accused of using offshore companies to defraud the Spanish government of the equivalent of $5 million.
Both Messi and his father have denied wrongdoing, but nevertheless made a “corrective payment” of $6.25 million in 2013, according to the Associated Press. Prosecutors had wanted to focus on Messi’s father, but the judge insisted on retaining the charges against Messi. The tax dispute centers on royalties for the use of the soccer player’s image in advertising for companies such as Adidas, Pepsi-Cola and Procter and Gamble. He plays for the Barcelona soccer team.
If convicted of the three counts, Messi faces up to 22 months in prison.
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