Lionel Messi – Barcelona Forward Found Guilty on 3 Counts of Tax Fraud; Unlikely to Serve Jail Time


hi-res-78bd88e8dd58884ea4ea92fa892f39b0_crop_northMessi was sentenced to 21 months of jail time, but under Spanish law he is eligible to serve the sentence outside of prison. His father, Jorge, was also found guilty in the case

Barcelona court on Wednesday gave soccer superstar Lionel Messi and his father suspended sentences of 21 months in prison for tax fraud.

The court found Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, guilty of three counts of defrauding the tax department to the tune of $4.6 million.

Under Spanish law, sentences of less than two years for first offenses are suspended, meaning that neither man will go to jail.

The court also fined Messi 2 million euros (approximately $2.2 million) and his father, 1.5 million euros (about $1.7 million).

During a four-day trial last month, the Barcelona star and his father denied any wrongdoing. Both said the player was unaware of the tax issues that led to the fraud charges.

But the state prosecutor argued that Messi and his father had failed to prove their innocence and were unable to show that the player did not have at least some knowledge of the corporate structures created to lower his tax burden in Spain.