Football icon Lionel Messi sentenced to 21 months in jail for €4.1 million tax fraud

  • Lionel Messi and his father Jorge have been charged with three counts of tax fraud
  • The two were reported to have concealed up to €4.1 million of tax dues
  • They were sentenced with 21 months of jail time

Barcelona football club player Lionel Messi has been charged of tax evasion amounting to €4.1 million or $4.5 million.

Together with his father Jorge, Messi faces a sentence of up to 21 months of prison time for hiding their earnings of his image rights from 2007 to 2009 through fake companies in Belize and Uruguay.

The court in Barcelona has charged them with three counts of tax fraud.

The 29-year-old forward of the Spanish team denied the accusation.

“I was playing football; I had no idea about anything. I trusted my dad and my lawyers,” he was quoted in a story by The Independent.

Messi stressed during the trial that he had no knowledge about how his finances are being handled. His father is the one minding his earnings while he is out “playing football,” he said.

Eva Blasquez, who managed Messi’s taxes affirmed the player’s statement: “Leo didn’t see them. The final supervision was done by the client, in this case, Jorge Messi.”

Jorge, on the other hand, previously said that informing his son about every detail of his finances and contracts was unnecessary.

“I didn’t think it was necessary to inform him of everything,” he said last month.

Despite the heavy charges, the father and son will not be spending jail time since the state’s law says that prison term below two years may be served under probation. They can still appeal their case before the Supreme Court.

The two still have to pay the fine: €2 million for the football player and €1.5 million for the father.

BBC said in its story that Messi and his father paid a €5 million “corrective payment” for the unpaid taxes in 2013.