Lionel Messi is certainly not enjoying the greatest year ever.
Yesterday, the Argentina and Barcelona footballer was sentenced to 21 months in prison for tax fraud.
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His father, Jorge Messi, also received a jail term for defrauding Spain of €4.1 million (£3.5m; $4.5m) between 2007 and 2009. Along with the jail terms, they both face millions of euros in fines for using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights.
Despite the sentencing, there is no expectation that either man will serve the jail terms handed down. This is because, under the Spanish justice system, prison terms of under two years can be served under probation. The case as can be expected, has attracted a huge amount of press attention and the footballer and his father were found guilty of three counts of tax fraud in Wednesday’s ruling by the court in Barcelona.
The fines were in the form of €2 million for Lionel Messi and €1.5 million for his father, Jorge Messi. In August 2013, the two had already made a voluntary €5 million “corrective payment”, equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest.
By way of their defense in the course of the trial, Lionel Messi had insisted that he “knew nothing” about the management of his financial affairs, saying his father dealt with them while he was “playing football”. His father on the other hand, claimed he did not have enough knowledge to orchestrate such a fraud, blaming his tax consultants instead. There is still chance for an appeal of the sentence through the Spanish supreme court.
Messi was recently in the news for his retirement from international football late last month following Argentina’s loss to Chile at the Copa America finals.