Striker “Barcelona” Lionel Messi
On 6 July the court of Barcelona recognised striker the eponymous football club Lionel Messi guilty to three counts of tax evasion. The footballer was sentenced to 21 months in prison. The same sentence was pronounced the father of the player, Jorge Horacio Messi.
In addition to the prison term the court ordered Massey to pay a fine of €2 million (Messi-senior will have to pay €1.5 million). Under Spanish law prison term for tax crimes less than two years may be replaced by a conditional, so Messi and his father will likely be able to avoid a real prison.
The Prosecutor in the course of the proceedings insisted on prison time for Messi and his father, arguing that Messi and his father from 2007 to 2009, evaded tax payments in the amount of €4.1 million from the funds received for the use of the rights to the player.
According to investigators, Messi and his father since 2005, sold the right to use the image of the player in the offshore companies registered in Belize and Uruguay. The consequence considers that through this scheme, Messi is not paid from their advertising revenue in the amount of €10.1 million, almost no taxes. The money the player received from advertising contracts with major companies, such as Adidas, Danone and Telefonica. In addition, Messi and his father hid information about their foreign financial transactions from the tax authorities of Spain.
In the spring of 2016 was published in “the Panama document” Uruguayan law firm Mossack Fonseca, according to which Messi and his father were the ultimate beneficiaries of a shell company Mega Star Enterprises, the existence of which the result was not known. About other suspicious transactions, which Messi spent with Mossack Fonseca, the result was known before in the case States that on 17 February 2012 Yuridicheskaya firm confirmed that Messi is the only partner of another shell company Jenbril S. A., through which the tax evasion.
For the first time about the charges against the football player told Spanish news Agency EFE in June 2013. As it turned out “of Panamanian documents”, the next day, the Uruguayan Messi’s lawyers wrote a letter to Mossack Fonseca with a request to change an offshore provider for Mega Star Enterprises. Further shell company was controlled by Mossack Fonseca.
As he wrote the German Sued Deutsche Zeitung, consultants Mossack Fonseca at least suspected that they are dealing with a troubled company, because they insisted on a guarantee that Mossack Fonseca and its employees will not be required to indemnify any complaints, court cases and other proceedings related to Mega Stars Enterprises. Lionel and Jorge Messi signed a document on 23 July 2013, claims with reference to the document Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Although the name Messi appeared in the contracts of the Mega Star Enterprises, and he signed documents in court, Messi claimed to have put his signature to many documents that are not even read, and when did they register the offshore company in the notary office, did not understand the scheme of tax evasion. During the investigation, Messi stressed that all of his financial Affairs is his father.
According to Forbes magazine, Messi is now second in the list of highest paid athletes in the world. Over the past 12 months he earned $81.4 million
Messi is not the only player facing prosecution for tax fraud. In December 2015, his teammate, Argentine midfielder Javier Mascherano, was sentenced to a year in prison for tax evasion. The sentence was suspended for two years. Charges made Mascherano, similar to those faced Messi — athlete was accused that he failed to declare €1.5 million received in 2011-2013 for the right use of his image in Spain and Portugal.