Barcelona star Lionel Messi given 21 month jail sentence and fined €2m for tax crimes by Spanish court

 
Joe Hall
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Messi was found guilty of three tax crimes (Source: Getty)

Lionel Messi and his father Jorge have been sentenced to 21 months in prison and fined €2m and €1.5m respectively for three counts of tax fraud.

The pair had been charged with defrauding Spain of more than £3m between 2007 and 2009 by funnelling earnings made through image rights through tax havens in Belize and Uruguay.

Yet neither the Barcelona star nor Jorge Messi will serve jail time, as Spanish law dictates that sentences under 24 months can be served under probation following a first offence.

Read more: Real Madrid and Barcelona ordered to repay millions in state aid

Both can appeal through the Spanish supreme court.

Messi, the world's highest-paid footballer, had argued that he was unaware of his tax arrangements and had just signed documents on the advice of his father and his lawyers.

Should he repeat his offence and be found guilty of tax crimes again, he will be sent to prison.

Barcelona said it would give "all its support" to Messi and his father following the sentence and that they "in no way" considered the Argentinean "criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case".

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