Lionel Messi handed jail term in Spain for tax fraud
Reports suggest that Argentine football player Lionel Messi and his father are condemned to twenty one months in prison on tax charges. Lionel and his father Jorge were accused of defrauding Spanish authority of more than €4m (£3.1m; $5m) between 2007-2009. Although both Messi and his father have denied all the allegations against them, they have appeared in court on many occasions – most recently in early June before the Copa America Centenario tournament.
Lionel Messi’s lawyers have on many occasions defended the Barcelona talisman by saying that he was not familiar with the tax issues that lead to the charges against him. Angel Juarez, a partner at the law office that represented Messi at the time also defended saying, "The player wasn't involved in any of the decisions; He would show up only to sign the documents."
Spanish prosecutors argue that despite Messi being mostly unfamiliar with tax issues, there was enough evidence to believe he could have known and agreed to the suspicious structure created to avoid paying taxes on income from his image rights. Leo’s teammate Javier Mascherano was also prosecuted for allegations of tax fraud earlier this year. Another of his Barcelona teammate’s Neymar Jr. also has similar allegations against him.
But there is good news for all Lionel Messi fans. In Spain, if you are given a sentence of two years or less you are not required to serve it, unless the reason for the punishment is violent crime. Hence, Messi is very unlikely to go to prision.
More to follow