, BARCELONA, Spain, Jun 2 – Argentina football star Lionel Messi said Thursday he trusted his father with his finances and “knew nothing” about how his wealth was managed as he took the stand at his tax fraud trial.
“I was playing football. I had no idea about anything,” the five-time World Player of the Year told the Barcelona court hearing the case.
“I trusted my dad and my lawyers,” the 28-year-old, who wore a black suit and tie, added during the roughly 20 minutes he was questioned.
Messi and his father Jorge Horacio Messi are accused of using a chain of fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros (Sh464mn) of Messi’s income earned through the sale of his image rights from 2007-09.
The income related to Messi’s image rights that was allegedly hidden and includes endorsement deals with Banco Sabadell, Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter & Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company.
“All I knew was that we signed agreements with certain sponsors, for ‘X’ amount of money and that I had to do adverts, photos and those things but about the money and where it went I knew nothing,” Messi told the court.
The Barcelona forward and his defence team have long argued that Messi’s father handled the footballer’s finances without reporting to him, and the striker was not aware of any wrongdoing.