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Messi & father handed 21-month sentences


07-07-2016 15:54 BJT

Legal case, involving an athlete, and what could be a blow to the image of Lionel Messi. A Barcelona court gave the football star and his father suspended sentences of 21 months in prison for tax fraud. The court found both the Barcelona striker and his dad guilty of three counts of defrauding the tax department, to the tune of 4.6 million dollars. But in Spain, sentences of less than two years for first offences are suspended, meaning neither will go to jail.

The court also fined Messi 2.2 million dollars, and his father 1.7 million. During the trial, Messi and his dad denied any wrongdoing, claiming the player was unaware of the tax issues that led to the charges. But the state prosecutor argued Messi and his father failed to prove their innocence, and were unable to show that the Argentine forward did not have at least some knowledge of the corporate structures created to lower his tax burden in Spain. Inspectors testified they found evidence that Messi's father used shell companies in countries like Uruguay and Switzerland. Messi's lawyer said the Barca star will appeal.

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