Messi gets 21 months jail for fraud
BARCELONA'S Argentinian football star Lionel Messi has been sentenced to 21 months in prison and fined two million euros (S$3 million) after being found guilty of three counts
of tax fraud, a court in the Spanish city said yesterday.
It handed the same jail sentence to the player's
father, Jorge, and fined
him 1.5 million euros.
However, in Spain, it is customary that those sentenced to under
two years for non-violent crimes do not serve time
Messi, 29, and his father were accused by the Spanish tax office of defrauding the government of 4.2 million euros in tax between 2007 and 2009. The court found that they had used a web
of shell companies to evade taxes on income from the player's image rights.
Messi, five times World Player of the Year, said
during the trial that he had
no knowledge of the dealings
and that his father had control over his financial affairs.
But the court said this was not enough for him to avoid charges. The defendants can appeal to the supreme court, the Barcelona local court said in its statement.
Messi and his father had already paid five million euros to the tax authorities as a "corrective" measure after investigations were opened.
The footballer is 10th on Forbes magazine's list of the world's highest-earning athletes over the past decade, with an estimated income
of US$350 million (S$473 million) during this period.