Messi loses appeal in tax fraud trial

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Spain’s Supreme Court on Wednesday confirmed a 21-month jail sentence and 2.09-million-euro fine imposed on Lionel Messi for tax fraud, months after the Barcelona football star lodged an appeal, AFP reports.

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 was hidden includes endorsement deals with Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter & Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company.

Both Messi, 29, and his father were given 21 months in jail — prison terms likely to be suspended as is common in Spain for first offences for non-violent crimes carrying a sentence of less than two years.

They appealed to the Supreme Court, which confirmed the sentence for the five-time world player of the year on Wednesday.

However, it also reduced the term to 15 months jail for his father, taking into account that his football star son had paid back the defrauded money to tax authorities.

The player and his father made a voluntary payment of 5.0 million euros — equal to the amount of the alleged unpaid taxes plus interest — in August 2013 after being formally investigated.

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