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Soccer star Messi and dad face tax-fraud hearing

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FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi he arrives to a training session for Argentina's national soccer team in Guatemala City, Thursday, June 13, 2013. Argentina will face Guatemala in a friendly soccer match on Friday. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi he arrives to a training session for Argentina's national soccer team in Guatemala City, Thursday, June 13, 2013. Argentina will face Guatemala in a friendly soccer match on Friday. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi he arrives to a training session for Argentina's national soccer team in Guatemala City, Thursday, June 13, 2013. Argentina will face Guatemala in a friendly soccer match on Friday. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

SOCCER star Lionel Messi and his father were ordered by a Spanish court to appear for questioning in September as part of an investigation into tax fraud allegations.

A court in the Mediterranean coastal town of Gava near Barcelona accepted a state prosecutor's complaint alleging that Messi (inset) and father Jorge defrauded the Spanish tax office of €4m.

The Barcelona and Argentina star and his father will appear before judge Anju Deb Rani in Gava on September 17.

That will form part of an investigation to determine whether grounds exist to charge them with tax evasion.

The court said in a statement that the judge's acceptance of the complaint was "a routine step".

Testimony

"To move forward with the investigation, a series of procedural steps will be carried out like taking testimony of the people necessary so as to clarify if a criminal offence has been committed or not," the court said.

If charged and found guilty, Messi and his father could face a fine amounting to 150pc of the concealed earnings and between two and six years in prison.

Court officials said Messi and his father will have to appear for a session that will be closed to the public.

jlast@herald.ie


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