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Lionel Messi faces jail term

Lionel Messi faces jail term
Highlights

Spain\'s Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi and stood by a Catalan regional court\'s 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud, court documents showed.Messi was found guilty by a Catalan court last July on three counts of tax fraud between 2007 and 2009.Messi\'s lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

Madrid: Spain's Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi and stood by a Catalan regional court's 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud, court documents showed.Messi was found guilty by a Catalan court last July on three counts of tax fraud between 2007 and 2009.Messi's lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

The income related to Messi's image rights that was hidden includes endorsement deals with Danone, Adidas, Pepsi- Cola, Procter & Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company.Both Messi and his father were given 21 months in jail -- sentences likely to be suspended as is common in Spain for first offences for non-violent crimes carrying a sentence of less than two years.
They appealed to the Supreme Court.

While the court confirmed the sentence for Messi on Wednesday, it reduced it to 15 months jail for his father, taking into account that his football star son had paid back the defrauded money to tax authorities.During last year's trial, Messi had argued that he trusted his father with his finances and "knew nothing" about how his wealth was managed.

A court statement said Messi "unequivocally understood his obligation to pay tax on income obtained from exploiting his image rights...therefore it is not logical that he should ignore his duty to pay tax on them".The Supreme Court's ruling brings an end to a case which began in 2013.

Messi's tax fraud trial in June last year took place against a backdrop of simmering voter anger over steep cuts to health and social spending, as the government struggles to bring Spain's public deficit down.

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