Messi sentenced to 21 months in jail for tax fraud, won’t go to prison

Barcelona: Lionel Messi, the Barcelona’s Argentinian football star, was on Wednesday sentenced by a Spanish court to 21 months in prison and fined 2 million euros after found guilty of committing three tax frauds.


The court handed the same jail sentence to Messi’s father, Jorge, and fined him 1.5 million euros. However, in Spanish law, it is not mandatory for a first offender to go to prison if the sentence is under two years.


Messi and his father had used a web of shell companies to evade taxes on income from the player’s image rights from 2007 to 2009 and had therefore defrauded the government of 4.2 million euros ($4.7 million) tax.


The income related to Messi’s image rights that were allegedly hidden includes endorsement deals with Banco Sabadell, Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter & Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company, Reuters reported.


Messi and his father had already paid 5 million euros to the tax authorities as a “corrective” measure after formal investigations were opened.


In its statement, the Barcelona Provincial Court added that the defendants can appeal to the supreme court.


With agency inputs