2016 have been a bad year for the footballing legend Lionel Messi. Although he has the most number of goals+assists in this year and has won domestic double with FC BARCELONA, but overall it hasn’t been great year. He faced 2 major setbacks in the duration of 3 weeks. Messi progressed to Copa America final with his national team and faced Chile. History repeated itself and the Argentines lost on penalties again. Messi was in tears. Despite progressing to 3 consecutive finals, Argentina couldn’t win a single one. Leo called his day and retired from the national side. After 2 weeks, Messi had a court trial in Spain as he and his father was accused of tax fraud. The case concluded with both and Jorge and Lionel Messi sentenced to 21 months in prison.
Messi and his father are reported to have deceived Spanish tax authorities and enjoy tax heaven in Uruguay and Belize. Moreover, they have also used the same policies for the Shell companies in Switzerland and UK. A total of 4.1 million euros has been saved by the father and son on the earnings from image rights from 2007 to 2009.
In his defence, Leo stated that he was unaware of all the wrong doings, it was his father who was managing his financial part. He said:
“I was focused on football. I had no idea concerning the taxes. I depended on upon my father and my lawyers. All I knew was that we had a deal signed agreements with some sponsors, for ‘X’ quantity of money and I had to do photos and advertisements sort of stuff. But I had no idea about where the money earned went.”
Leo’s father also gave the statement in support of Leo and took all blame on himself but refused to accept that he himself committed crime intentionally.
The government prosecutor opposed the statement and forced on the point that Leo was also aware of the situation and he is as responsible for the fraud as his father. The Spanish government prosecutor gave his statements and proved the point that whether Leo was unaware but it was his duty to have inquired about the documents that he used to sign.
The prosecutor said:
“Lionel declared that he didn’t know what was in the documents. I don’t believe this, as both father and son visited a notary. He was also asked to sign a contract through which handed over his rights for a certain amount. It is surprising that he didn’t raise any question. Moreover, if they didn’t even have any concern with these things that would have at least asked some questions. He knew more than he let on in court.”
Leo’s defence team appealed to the court that only his father should be sentenced to 18 months in prison. The prosecutor forced that both must be punished with at least 22 months in prison. The trial concluded with both father and son receiving 21 months in prison. This is a big blow to his club. FC Barcelona came forward to back Messi denying that Messi is not a criminal and that the club fully supports him. Despite the sentence, both Messi is very unlikely to go to jail and would take the advantage of the law in Spain that a punishment less than 2 years could be avoided on probation for the first time by paying heavy fines. This seems a good news for Messi and his fans.