Messi gets 21 months jail for fraud

ESCAPE: Messi's jail term is below that for non-violent crimes that will entail spending time behind bars in Spain.


    Jul 07, 2016

    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

    in jail.

    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.