Lionel Messi loses appeal over tax fraud sentence, not expected to serve time

 

Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, lost their appeal to Spain’s Supreme Court over a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud, which was originally handed down by a Barcelona court.

Multiple outlets reported the ruling Wednesday morning.

Neither are expected to serve any prison time. Under Spanish law, unless there are prior offenses, prison sentences of less than two years are often suspended, or probation will suffice.

A Barcelona court found both guilty in 2016 of defrauding on their taxes from 2007 to 2009 — equaling out to three counts of tax fraud — for using shell companies to avoid taxes on income from the player’s image rights. Lionel Messi was fined around $2.3 million and his father around $1.7 million in a ruling last July, and Messi’s father had his 21-month sentence reduced to 15 months after Messi repaid the defrauded money. Messi appealed the sentence in April.

“I was dedicated to playing soccer,” Messi told the Barcelona court last summer. “I trusted my father and the lawyers that we had chosen to deal with our affairs. At no time did I think that they could deceive me.”

Messi led the Spanish soccer league with 37 goals this past season, but he couldn’t lead Barcelona to the title, falling to Real Madrid.

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