Barcelona star Javier Mascherano sentenced to jail for tax fraud but unlikely to serve prison time
Jan 21, 2016 10:54 PM EST
Barcelona player Javier Mascherano has been sentenced to a year in prison and fined €815,000 for two counts of tax offences in Spain in 2011 and 2012.
However, Mascherano is not expected to serve any time in jail, after his lawyer David Aineto requested the prison sentence to be subtitued for the fine.
The Barcelona defender had pleaded guilty for failing to pay €1.5 million in Spanish tax. In September 2015, Mascherano agreed to pay the full €1.5 million debt owed to the tax authorities. He also paid €200,000 of interest on the money, but has still been hit with a new fine, Daily Mail reported.
The Argentine was handed the fine and suspended prison sentence in December, which was ratified in Barcelona court on Thursday.
According to Telegraph, prison sentences under two years in Spain can be suspended in exchange for a fine, as long as the crime in non-violent and the perpetrator has no previous convictions. Mascherano's defence team asked for a suspended sentence in return for an additional fine of €21,600.
The prosecutor agreed to the suspended sentence request, but not the state attorney. A new decision on the case is set to be announced in the coming days.
Following Thursday ruling, Mascherano released a statement in his social media account, the Guardian reported. He said in the statement: "I'm a sporting professional, I don't have a great understanding of tax and legal matters."
Mascherano said he asked for support from people that understand things that are too technical and complex for him. He said he was engaged in the services of a prestigious Spanish tax firm that recommended him certain financial structures, which they said were common practice and accepted by the law.
According to him, he was assessed by the tax firm from 2010 until 2014 when he decided to change his advisors. His new advisors had recommended that he should pay all the taxes being reclaimed by the Inland Revenue presenting what was referred to as 'corrections' over all the relevant fiscal years.
The Barcelona star added that he has always been an honest and responsible person throughout his career and has always respected his team-mates, the clubs he has represented and the countries he has lived in.
Mascherano is not the only Barcelona player in trouble with the law. His team-mate Lionel Messi is set to face trial for defrauding the Spanish tax office of €4.1 million. Meanwhile, Neymar is set to testify the Spanish National Court next month over investigation into irregularities in his 2013 transfer from Santos to Barcelona.