Spanish court orders Lionel Messi, dad to jail for 21-months for tax fraud

| Updated: May 25, 2017 03:23 IST

Madrid [Spain], May 24 (ANI): The Supreme Court of Spain sentenced Argentine and Barcelona FC football star Lionel Messi to serve a 21-month jail sentence and pay a fine of 2.09 million Euro (USD 2.25 million) for tax fraud on Wednesday. Messi and his father Jorge Horacio Messi were found guilty of using companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million Euros of Messi's income earned from his image rights from 2007-09. They were declared guilty in July 2016. The income related to Messi's image rights that was hidden includes endorsement deals with Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter and Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company. Messi's father was also asked to serve time in jail for 21 months. However, local media is reporting that these jail sentences are likely to be suspended as is common in Spain for first offences for non-violent crimes carrying a sentence of less than two years. While the court confirmed the sentence for Messi on Wednesday, it reduced it to 15 months jail for his father, taking into account that his football star son had paid back the defrauded money to tax authorities. During last year's trial, Messi had argued that he trusted his father with his finances and "knew nothing" about how his wealth was managed. But the Supreme Court argued that he would have known about his obligation to pay taxes on income earned from his image rights. Messi's tax fraud trial in June last year took place against a backdrop of simmering voter anger over steep cuts to health and social spending, as the government struggles to bring Spain's public deficit down. (ANI)

iocl