A judge first ruled against Messi and his father in October 2014, saying "in this type of crime, it is not necessary for someone to have complete knowledge of all the accounting and business operations nor the exact quantity, rather it is sufficient to ...and more »
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Soccer star Lionel Messi and his father have been sentenced to 21
months in prison by a Spanish court for tax fraud, multiple media
outlets have reported.
They are unlikely, however, to actually serve the prison
sentence. In Spain, prison terms under two years can be
served under probation. The younger Messi will most
likely have to pay a $2.3 million fine.
Messi, an Argentine national who plays for the Spanish club FC
Barcelona, stood trial with his father over accusations that they
defrauded authorities of more than $4.5 million from 2007 to
2009, the Spanish newspaper
El Pais has reported.
Messi appealed the decision to go to trial but a Barcelona judge
rejected it in June 2015, deciding that Messi had benefited from
a scheme allegedly set up by his father to defraud Spanish tax
authorities of 4.1 million euros ($4.6 million).
Whether Messi knew he was breaking tax laws did not matter,
the high court in Barcelona ruled last
The question of whether Messi knowingly participated in the
alleged fraud, or if it was all his father's idea, was addressed
during the trial.
Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, were accused of
circumventing tax obligations in Spain by using companies in
Belize and Uruguay to sell the rights to Messi's image. Messi's
father allegedly set up the scheme when his son was still a
Father and son both denied the allegations, and Messi's lawyers
have argued that Messi "has never spent one minute of his life
reading, studying, or analyzing" the contracts involved in the
"I was playing football — I knew nothing," Messi told a
Spanish court early last month.
Prosecutors have retorted that Messi had signed the contracts
when he turned 18 and was listed as a sole administrator of one
of the fraudulent companies in question.
A judge first ruled against Messi and his father
in October 2014, saying "in this type of crime, it is not
necessary for someone to have complete knowledge of all the
accounting and business operations nor the exact quantity, rather
it is sufficient to be aware of the designs to commit fraud and
consent to them."
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