FC Barcelona and Argentine star Lionel Messi and his father Jorge have been sentenced to 21 months of prison for tax evasion. However, the duo are unlikely to serve time in prison with Spanish law allowing a prison sentence under 2 years to be served on probation.
Lionel Messi is under investigation since 2013 for suspected tax evasion. The Argentine and his father were accused of using offshore companies in tax havens, Uruguay and Belize, to evade €4.1 million in taxes related to sponsorship earnings and image rights between 2007 and 2009. Later in the Panama Papers data leak, a shell company in Panama, which was set up in 2012, was also identified as belonging to Messi.
The 29-year-old had pleaded ignorance of the alleged scheme saying he “knew nothing” about how his finances were being managed, and that he was only “playing football”. Later, he voluntarily pay arrears of €5.1 million in August 2013.
Back in May, Messi, alongside his father, stood trial on three counts of tax evasion, and now the Court of Catalonia has fined the pair and sentenced them to 21 months of imprisonment. However, the duo will not have to serve any time in prison as according to Spanish law, a jail-time of under two years can be served on probation.