Spain’s latest tax fraud target: Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano

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Madrid (AFP) – A charge on two counts of tax fraud was launched against Barcelona player Javier Mascherano by Spain’s public prosecution service, a court filing revealed on Monday. The Argentine is alleged to have failed to declare over 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million, £1.1 million) in 2011 and 2012 made through his image rights by ceding the rights to companies he owns in Portugal and the United States with favorable tax rates.

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The filing also confirmed Mascherano deposited just short of 1.75 million euros with the tax authorities on Sept. 9 this year to repay the amount owed plus interest.

Mascherano is just the latest high-profile soccer player to be scrutinised by the tax authorities in Spain over the declaration of money made through image rights. Four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi appeared before a judge in 2013 after he and his father were accused of defrauding the public purse of 4.16 million euros ($4.7 million, £3 million) after his image rights were ceded to companies in Belize and Uruguay. Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso also categorically denied any wrongdoing last week after Spanish newspaper El Mundo claimed he was being investigated for a scheme similar to that used by Mascherano.

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