A Spanish judge has rejected a recommendation from the state prosecutor that accusations of tax fraud against Lionel Messi be dismissed.
In June 2013, a lawsuit was filed against Messi and his father, Jorge, for allegedly defrauding Spain’s tax authorities of over four million euros between 2007 and 2009.
However, the prosecutor last month moved to have the case against Messi dropped and upheld only against his father, arguing that Messi Sr was reponsible for the family's finances.
The verdict of the presiding judge of the court in Gavà, in the province of Barcelona, sees Messi remain an official suspect in the case, and gives the prosecutor’s office and the legal representative of the state ten days to request to open or stay proceedings.
In a statement on Monday, the judge said that “sufficient evidence” exists that the footballer “could have known about and consented to the creation and upkeep of a fictitious business structure, whose only purpose was to evade compliance with those tax obligations arising from the income generated by the exploitation of his image rights”.