Court rules Lionel Messi (and his father) can avoid jail over tax fraud with higher fine

Football superstar Lionel Messi and his father can avoid prison for tax fraud by paying an extra fine, a Spanish court has ruled.

Instead of serving his 21-month sentence, the Barcelona and Argentina forward will be fined an extra €252,000.

The Barcelona-based court also ruled that Messi’s father, Jorge Horacio Messi, will be fined an extra €180,000  instead of serving his 15-month sentence.

The ruling was widely expected in Spain, where prison sentences under 24 months for first-time offenders can be waived by a judge.

Last year, a court found Messi and his father each guilty of three counts of defrauding tax authorities of €4.1 million from 2007-09.

The unpaid taxes were from money made through endorsement deals, not Messi’s salary paid by Barcelona.

In that ruling Messi was also fined €2 million  and his father €1.5 million.

Both were originally sentenced to 21 months, but his father’s sentence was later reduced to 15 months.

- Press Association

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