Lionel Messi faces jail time!
9 October 2015, Nirapad News: Lionel Messi faces 22 months of jail time for fiscal tax fraud after a Spanish judge denied prosecutors’ request to drop charges against the player and focus only on his father. Messi and his father, Jorge, will stand trail accused of defrauding the Iberian country of $5 million using off-shore companies in Belize and Uruguay from 2007-09.
Though both Messi and his father deny wrongdoing, the younger Messi has argued via his lawyers that he did not pay any mind to the contracts placed before him, as he was only a footballer focused on his art. The case centers on contracts for Messi’s imaging rights for companies including adidas, Pepsi-Cola, and Proctor and Gamble.
Despite claiming innocence in the matter, Messi and his father made a “corrective” payment of $6.25 million in 2013, which accounted for the unpaid sum plus interest. One would think that paying off the missing amount plus interest would be enough, but a trial to send the Argentine to jail appears to be in line to proceed despite prosecutors choosing to drop the charges.
The Barcelona forward suffered a tortured spell of play by his lofty standards in the aftermath of the news originally breaking and the subsequent investigation. Messi, who had won the Ballon d’Or in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, finished runner-up in both 2013 and 2014. Messi blamed off-the-field issues for his slight dip in 2014 before a spectacular 2015 witnessed the Argentine leading FC Barcelona to an historic treble by winning the Spanish league, the Spanish Cup and the Champions League.
Currently, the 28-year-old is out with a knee injury which will force him to miss crucial ties for World Cup qualifying with Argentina and meaningful domestic and European matches with Barcelona. To what extent the latest developments affect Messi on the pitch remain to be seen. However, the Argentine can at least find solace in the fact that teammate Neymar is embattled in a similar struggle with Brazilian tax authorities.
While failing to pay taxes on any sum of money is technically a crime, Messi has paid the money back with interest. When viewing the case in the context of time and wrongdoing, the charges stem from actions that took place several years ago and have not been repeated, or there would be more charges arriving – lesson learned, penalty paid.
Considering the massive sums Messi has generated for the Spanish economy by simply plying his trade in the country, the biggest crime in this matter would be if Messi spends even a single day behind bars.