THE Spanish supreme court has confirmed that Barcelona star Lionel Messi has lost the appeal against a 21-month jail sentence for fraud.
The sentence was announced after both he and his father were found guilty of three counts of tax fraud relating to the earnings of 2007, 2008 and 2009, for which Messi has been given a sentence of 21 months in jail.
However, due to the lack of prior offences, the pair are unlikely to serve jail time as sentences of under 24 months in Spain are usually suspended if there are no previous convictions.
Despite not serving time, Leo Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, have been given huge fines of 2 million and 1,5 million euros respectivelly, after they were found guilty and given 7 years of prison time each for each of the years in which the offences occurred.
The whole case came to light when, in 2005, the forward and his father sold the player’s rights to countries operating under shady policies when it comes to declaration of goods, for 50,000 euros, a suspiciously low figure bearing in mind the future that lay ahead of him.
The court deemed the price ‘illogical’ and ‘ridiculous’, according to information from ‘Cadena SER’ about the legal report. And, the truth is, the player received 1 million euros, 20 times what he had initially declared.
The sentence read: ‘The accused avoided the payment of the income received for the image rights of Leo Messi, through a complex business maneuver that had no more purpose than to hide from the Public Treasury the revenues generated and who was the true recipient of the same’.
Said source also mentions Messi’s excuses about his lack of awareness on the irregular situation that was going on were of no use to reduce the sentence: ‘This was an avoidable unawareness because there was a justified suspicion that his income from image rights had no clear origin’.