Messi avoids prison for tax fraud
Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father can avoid prison for tax fraud by paying an extra fine, a Spanish court yesterday.
Instead of Messi serving his 21-month sentence, the Argentina forward will be fined an extra €252,000 (US$287,000).
The Barcelona-based court also ruled that Messi's father, Jorge Horacio Messi, would be fined an extra €180,000 (US$205,000) 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 (US$4.6 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.