Barcelona great and recently retired Argentina player Lionel Messi and his father have each been sentenced to 21 months in prison and issued a fine for tax fraud. But because of Spanish law, the sentences have been suspended and neither will serve time in prison.
The Messi’s were initially investigated due to putting money in tax havens in Belize and Uruguay in order to avoid paying taxes in Spain during 2007 to 2009. During the trial, Lionel had paid back all the back taxes and claimed that he didn’t know what was going on and that his father ran his finances. Lionel’s father, Jorge, said that he was told it was legal.
The suspended sentence may confuse or enrage some people thinking that it’s another famous person avoiding jail time. It’s actually Spanish law that if someone sentence of less than two years and it’s their first offense, they do not have to actually serve that sentence as long as they don’t get in trouble within the two years. It was determined that each serve seven months for each of the three years the Messi’s evaded paying taxes, hence the 21 month sentence. So it’s essentially more probation than anything. Lionel will have to pay a 1.7 million euro fine while Jorge gets a 1.3 million euro fine.
Next week, Messi will be back in Barcelona to train with the team and get their preseason started. There, he will join others who have been in trouble for tax fraud. Javier Mascherano received a 12 month suspended sentence while Neymar has been fined £40 million in Brazil.
This hasn’t really been a great summer for Lionel Messi. After missing a penalty in the Copa America Centenario Final and losing as a result to Chile, Messi shockingly retired from the Argentina National Team. Barcelona will look to defend their La Liga title.