Another Blow for Messi—This Time in Court
He's guilty of tax fraud but likely won't serve jail time
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2016 7:40 AM CDT
Lionel Messi, left, arrives at a court in Barcelona in June.   (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

(Newser) Another blow for Lionel Messi: The star soccer player was sentenced to 21 months in jail for tax fraud in a Barcelona court Wednesday, but don't expect that to keep him from the soccer field. Messi is unlikely to serve time behind bars since jail sentences under two years in Spain can be served under probation for first-time offenders, reports the BBC. He does, however, face $2.2 million in fines for using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to hide millions from image rights, per the Telegraph.

Prosecutors argued $4.5 million was moved to Switzerland and Britain, then to offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay from 2007 to 2009, reports USA Today. During testimony last month, however, Messi said he "had no idea where the money was going," per the Telegraph. "I just concentrated on playing football. I trusted my father." Messi's father, Jorge Messi, was also found guilty of tax fraud and sentenced to 21 months, though he's not expected to serve time, either. He must pay $1.6 million.
 

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