Soccer superstar Lionel Messi has said he will appeal a court ruling over tax fraud. He and his father have been fined millions and sentenced to 21 months in prison, but will likely not serve jail time.
After a Spanish court sentenced Lionel Messi and his father Jorge to 21 months in jail for tax fraud on Wednesday, both parties have said they will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
“The sentence is not correct and we are confident the appeal will show the defense was right,” Messi’s lawyers said in a statement.
The Barcelona-striker’s lawyers said that an appeal could possibly succeed in persuading the court that Messi and his father behaved correctly, Messi’s representative told news agency AFP.
The pair were found guilty of three counts of tax fraud, a statement from the court said on Wednesday. The Argentina-born soccer star, 29, was fined about 2 million euros ($2.2 million) while his father received a fine of about 1.5 million euros.
The Barcelona court found them both guilty of using companies in Belize, Great 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.
Under Spanish law, any sentence under two years can be served under probation meaning the superstar and his father are unlikely to go to jail.
In his testimony prior to the Copa America cup, Messi denied any wrongdoing. Following Argentina’s loss in the tournament, he announced his retirement from international soccer.
rs/jm (AFP, Reuters)