Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi has been sentenced to 21 months in jail in Spain for tax fraud – although Spanish laws mean that he will not serve any time in prison. The 29-year-old was also handed a massive €2m fine for the three tax offences he was found guilty of, with his father Jorge Messi also given a jail term for defrauding Spain of €4.1m between 2007 and 2009. Prosecutors in the trial said tax havens in Belize and Uruguay were used to conceal earnings from image rights, but the player insisted in 2013:
“I never read the contracts. I don’t know what I’m signing.”
Criminals sentenced to less than two years can be suspended under Spanish law – as shown by Messi’s Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano, who was sentenced to 12 months in jail for tax offences of his own. He also said:
“I trust my dad. He’s the one who manages things for me, and I do what he tells me,” adding “At the end of the year I read the summary of what I have, of what I have made during the year. But I don’t ask where the money comes from. I know the club pays me and that’s it.”
This will surely be appealed!