Free Press Journal

Spain’s Supreme Court confirms jail term to Lionel Messi, father for tax fraud

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(FILES) This file photo taken on June 2, 2016 shows Barcelona's football star Lionel Messi (R) followed by his father Jorge Horacio Messi arriving at the courthouse on June 2, 2016 in Barcelona, where Messi and his father are to face judges in a tax fraud case. / AFP PHOTO / Josep LAGO

Madrid: Spain’s Supreme Court today confirmed a 21-month jail sentence and 2.09-million-euro (USD 2.25 million) fine imposed on Lionel Messi for tax fraud, months after the Barcelona football star lodged an appeal.

The Argentina international and his father Jorge Horacio Messi were in July 2016 found guilty of using companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros of Messi’s income earned from his image rights from 2007-09.

The income related to Messi’s image rights that were hidden includes endorsement deals with Danone, Adidas, Pepsi- Cola, Procter & Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company.


Both Messi and his father were given 21 months in jail — sentences likely to be suspended as is common in Spain for first offences for non-violent crimes carrying a sentence of fewer than two years. They appealed to the Supreme Court. While the court confirmed the sentence for Messi on Wednesday, it reduced it to 15 months jail for his father, taking into account that his football star son had paid back the defrauded money to tax authorities.

During last year’s trial, Messi had argued that he trusted his father with his finances and “knew nothing” about how his wealth was managed. But the Supreme Court argued that he would have known about his obligation to pay taxes on income earned from his image rights.

Messi’s tax fraud trial in June last year took place against a backdrop of simmering voter anger over steep cuts to health and social spending, as the government struggles to bring Spain’s public deficit down.