Lionel Messi Given Prison Sentence For Tax Fraud

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona and his father Jorge Horacio Messi seen inside the court during the third day of the trial on June 2, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Messi, who manages his financial affairs, are accused of defrauding the Spanish Tax Agency of 4.1 million Euros ($4.6 million, £3.2 million) by using companies based in tax havens such as Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights during years 2007 to 2009. (Photo by Alberto Estevez - Pool/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Messi were sentenced to 21 months each in jail by the High Court in Barcelona.

Lionel Messi Given Prison Sentence For Tax Fraud

The Messi’s were found guilty of defrauding the Spanish Tax authorities of a reported €4.1 million by using fake companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid tax on image rights earned between 2007 – 2009.

Messi and his father were both issued with the same sentence of 21 months by the Judge. As is common place for financial cases in Spain, due to having no prior convictions and as the sentence delivered was less than 24 months; neither is likely to spend any time in prison. Instead, he will likely serve probation.

The defence offered the explanation that Lionel Messi was just a football player who had no interest or expertise in the world of finance.

This was dismissed by the Prosecutor who successfully argued both father and son would have had knowledge of the tax laws in Spain and some knowledge the impact of Lionel Messi’s tax arrangements would have had on lowering his tax obligations.

Both were handed fines totalling €3.69 million.

Mascherano’s Tax Affairs

In a similar case earlier in this year, fellow Barcelona and Argentine teammate, Javier Mascherano, was also convicted of tax avoidance by Spanish courts in January.

The Barcelona defender was sentenced to one-year in prison following concealing the extent of his image rights payments during 2011-2012. Mascherano agreed a deal with the Spanish authorities after failing to pay €1.5 million in tax.


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