Spain Says “Nae, Nae” to Lionel Messi

Your Guide to State, Local, Federal, Estate + International Taxation

Have you seen the news lately? Lionel Messi (four-time player of the year in futball, soccer as we call it, plays for Barcelona & Argentina (only in the World Cup)) and his father Jorge are to stand trial in Spain on three counts of tax fraud.

What did they do, you ask?

They were accused in 2013 of defrauding the Spanish government out of 4.16 million euros, which is roughly $5 million give or take, maybe just take, because we rounded up for the “wow” effect. It was relating to the years 2007-2009 (1, 2, 3 years) through offshore tax heavens, which some articles say Belize and Uruguay and others say England and Switzerland, but who really knows besides Messi and Jorge and their scrupulous financial advisers.

Anyways, they tried to rectify the situation in 2013 by paying 5 million euros to make up for taxes and interest. The prosecutors and father tried to have the criminal charges and case dropped for Messi claiming that his father managed all of Messi’s finances and that Messi didn’t know of the unlawful activities. Now Spain already “whipped, whipped” and now we are watching them “nae, nae” (For those of you who don’t know the new popular kid song, see below) and go after Messi. Translation: The court is not having it. They say it was not necessary for Messi “to have full knowledge of all accounting or corporate transactions or the exact amount of the fraud” for him to have had a clear idea of an intention to defraud. Basically claiming “I didn’t know” as a defense will not stand up in court. So please be aware of what you are signing and don’t take a page out of Messi’s book and “sign anything with his (your) eyes closed” if your father tells you to; otherwise, you too could be facing up to 22 months in prison.

If you have any concerns, please contact your tax adviser. In the meantime, enjoy this YouTube clip of “Watch Me” by Silento.

By Chris Morrison and Joanna Yergler