How image rights landed Lionel Messi, his father in trouble?https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/messi-jail-messi-tax-evasion-how-image-rights-landed-messi-his-father-in-trouble-4672399/

How image rights landed Lionel Messi, his father in trouble?

Between 2007-09, Messi defaulted three times in the payment of taxes for his ‘image rights’.

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Lionel Messi and his father Jorge lost appeal against their 21-month prison-term for tax-fraud at the Spain Supreme Court. (Source: Reuters)

Do Messi and his father, both sentenced to jail terms, have to go to jail?

Both have been given a sentence under two years and have no past criminal record against their names. This would allow them to carry out their sentence under probation— that means none of them would ever have to enter jail but only pay the required fine.

What evasion have they been charged with? 

Between 2007-09, Messi defaulted three times in the payment of taxes for his ‘image rights’. Money was diverted to offshore firms in Belize and Uruguay, which led to a direct tax evasion amounting to 5 million Euros, which was repaid in corrective payments. Messi and his father voluntarily paid the amount covering the tax dues as well as the interest.

Was Messi directly responsible?

In 2015, prosecutors pushed for the punishment to be handed only to Messi stating that only Messi’s father could be held responsible. However, the state legal services — which also represents Spain’s tax agency — rejected that argument. Messi said in court that he was unaware of the investements his father had made. His father said that the contracts were cleared by a legal adviser.

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Is he the only player linked to Barcelona who has been charged with tax fraud? 

No. Since 2013 two other Barcelona player’s have had to appear in court for similar tax evasion. Javier Mascherano was awarded a year’s sentence under probation for the same. Neymar has an ongoing case in Brazil for the payments received by him in 2013 for his transfer to Camp Nou. Sandro Rossel, former president of the club, had to step down as he was arrested in relation to a money laundering case.