Spanish tax authorities scrutinize Messi’s foundation

FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi kicks the ball during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Levante at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. (AP)
Updated 13 January 2018
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Spanish tax authorities scrutinize Messi’s foundation

MADRID: Spanish tax authorities are investigating whether payments from FC Barcelona to Lionel Messi’s foundation were used to help the player evade taxes, Spanish daily El Mundo reported on Saturday.
The newspaper, which has acquired Football Leaks documents, reported that the club gave the foundation “at least 12.7 million euros ($15.5 million) between 2010 and 2016.”
The paper said that the payments from Barca represented 71.5 percent of the foundation’s revenue between 2013 and 2016.
The foundation says on its website that it “was created in 2007 with the wish that all children should have the same opportunities to make their dreams come true, and to promote equality in education and health.”
Between 2010 and the official registration of the foundation in June 2013, the club reduced the corporate tax they paid on the money by 35 percent, in line with rules on donations to charities.
Those payments raised the suspicions of the authorities which, in January 2016, began to investigate whether the money had been “remunerative” and evaded corporate and income tax. In April 2016, tax investigators visited the Barcelona offices — not for the first time in recent years.
After the official scrutiny began, the club stopped making the deductions from their donations and started withholding 45 percent for taxes suggesting, the newspaper said, that the payments “were considered part of the salary” of the Argentine star.
El Mundo said that the club had urged Messi, already being investigated for a 4.1 million-euro tax fraud relating to his image rights, to “regularise the donations to his foundation.” In the image rights case, Messi and his father, Jorge, were found guilty in 2016.
El Mundo said that, by law, 70 percent of a charity’s revenue should be spent on the aims for which it was created but a report in another Spanish newspaper, ABC, found the foundation’s accounts were full of gaps but included large sums spent on external consultants, rent and refurbishing its offices or transferred to its branch in Argentina.
According to documents examined by El Mundo, a tax settlement was paid to the Spanish treasury, in theory by Messi but ultimately by Barca, which made up the amount in a complex transaction days before the player signed a new contract last November.
That contract, which runs until 2021, will pay Messi more than 100 million euros a year including salary and image rights according to information published on Friday by the European Investigation Collaborations, which includes El Mundo.


Warriors beat Trail Blazers in overtime to reach NBA Finals

Updated 21 May 2019
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Warriors beat Trail Blazers in overtime to reach NBA Finals

  • The two-time defending NBA champions reach the title series for a fifth consecutive season
  • The only other team to reach five straight NBA Finals was the Boston Celtics

LOS ANGELES: Stephen Curry and Draymond Green both posted triple-doubles to power the Golden State Warriors to a 119-117 overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and into a fifth straight NBA Finals.
The two-time defending NBA champions reached the title series for a fifth consecutive season with the triumph in Portland, sweeping the Blazers in four games in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.
The only other team to reach five straight NBA Finals was the Boston Celtics, when they went to a record 10 in a row from 1957 to 1966.
The Warriors will battle for the title starting on May 30 against either the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors, aiming to become the first team since the Los Angeles Lakers of 2000, 2001 and 2002 to three-peat as champions.
Curry and Green became the first teammates in league history to have triple-doubles in the same post-season game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Curry finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, while Green had his second straight triple-double — posting double digits in three key statistical categories — with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
Fittingly, Curry and Green combined on the game-winning basket in overtime, Curry feeding Green for a three-pointer that pushed Golden State to a 119-115 lead with 39.6 seconds left in overtime.
The Trail Blazers had led 69-65 at halftime, and built the lead to 17 in the third quarter.
But Golden State, playing without injured superstar Kevin Durant as well as DeMarcus Cousins and veteran Andre Iguodala, chipped away, scoring the last nine points of the third period to close within 95-87 and knotting the score at 104-104 on Curry’s layup with 4:34 left in regulation.
Both teams had a chance to win in regulation, but Curry traveled before draining a three-pointer that didn’t count and Lillard was unable to get through in traffic as time expired with the score tied 111-111.
Portland star Lillard, playing with painful separated ribs, finished with 28 points while unheralded Meyers Leonard led the Trail Blazers with 30 points and 12 rebounds.
CJ McCollum added 26 for the Trail Blazers, but it wasn’t enough for a team that had fended off elimination twice in their second-round series against the Denver Nuggets.