Lionel Messi has been cleared of charges of tax evasion by a court in Barcelona today, but his father Jorge could be facing 18 months in prison if found guilty, as well as a €2 million fine (about US$2.25 million.)
This is a bit of a turnaround from earlier in the year, when the Spanish courts were adamant that La Pulga wouldn’t be exempt of charges despite claims from his lawyers that he “has never dedicated a minute of his life to reading, studying or analyzing” his contracts.
Leo was accused of defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of €4.1 million (US$4.6 million) between 2007 and 2009, after simulating selling his image rights to companies located in obscure tax-havens such as Belize, Uruguay, Switzerland and, wait for it, the United Kingdom, all in a bid to pay less taxes. Because the UK is obviously a well-known tax haven.
Jorge had previously come out and claimed full responsibility for the error, absolving his son of any blame. The Messi family made a corrective payment of €5.6 million (US$6.3 million) to the authorities, but evidently that wasn’t sufficient to appease the people in charge. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that much small change to throw at the tax authorities in the vain hope that everything would then be cool?
It’s not been a good couple days for the Messi family, after Lionel’s older brother, Matías, was arrested in Rosario for possession of an illegal firearm.
On the plus side, every football fan would agree (unless you happen to be a Real Madrid fan, maybe) that it’s good that the Argentine captain won’t be going to prison any time soon. It’s hard enough without him in our lives while he’s recovering from his injury.