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Lionel Messi and Father Sentenced to 21 Months in Prison for Tax Fraud

Photo credit to Jose Villar via Flickr

La Liga

Lionel Messi and his Father received 21 Months in Prison Sentence

Barcelona, Spain – A Barcelona court has found Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, guilty of three counts of tax fraud and has sentenced them to 21 months in prison — although neither is likely to serve any jail time.

According to reports from the court, Spanish outlet El Periodico says the duo were found guilty of three counts of tax fraud in Barcelona on Wednesday, as they were found guilty of defrauding the Spanish authorities of $4.5 million in tax between 2007 and 2009.

In a statement, the court also said that the sentence can be appealed through the Spanish supreme court. Under Spanish law, sentences of less than two years for first offenses are suspended, meaning neither man will go to jail.

The court also fined Messi 2 million euros and his father, 1.5 million euros.

The court had been hearing a case brought by prosecutors who maintain that Messi and his father, Jorge, used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay, and shell companies in the UK and Switzerland, to avoid paying taxes totaling 4.1 million euros on earnings from image rights from 2007 to 2009.

Both Messis have denied any wilful wrongdoing, with Lionel admitting in court last month that he signed many documents without reading their contents, and visited a notary’s office to go through with setting up a company to handle his finances without understanding what was going on.

This case has been rumbling on since 2013 and since then they’ve paid over $5.5 million in extra charges and it has been reported they’ve also paid $11 million in taxes on image rights for 2010 until 2011.