The Barcelona defender and the ace Argentinian star, Javier Mascherano has accepted a one-year prison sentence for tax evasion. According to the Spanish Media, Mascherano accepted his term on Thursday, Jan. 21.
As per the Channel News Asia reports, the 31-year-old South American National “pleaded guilty last year to defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of more than 1.5 million euros by concealing earnings from his image rights (by) using companies set up in the United States and Portugal.”
When he accepted the term, Mascherano agreed to pay an €800,000 (£615,750) fine as well as cover other the legal costs. He also paid back the unpaid tax adding almost €200,000 in interest.
The Argentinian National joined Barcelona back in 2010. Though he pleaded guilty on Thursday he maintained his innocence. He later posted a note on his Twitter account for his fans.
To my English speaking fans. pic.twitter.com/gtokftSxWp
— Javier Mascherano (@Mascherano) January 21, 2016
“I’m a professional athlete,” he wrote. “I have no extensive knowledge of tax and legal issues. Therefore, I must lean on professionals who handle these technical issues that [are] complex for me.”
He also claimed to be an “honest and responsible person”, and he also targeted the Spanish firm to which he entrusted his accounts from 2010 to 2014. He may also take legal action against the firm.
Mascherano isn’t the only player to be named under the tax fraud charges. His fellow teammate Lionel Messi has been accused of defrauding the Spanish Government of millions of dollars.
Even Neymar has been accused of tax fraud.
The Washington Post quotes, “It’s common practice in Spain for jail sentences of less than a year for non-violent crimes to be dismissed or replaced with additional fines.” So its unlikely that Mascherano will actually go to prison and serve his sentence.
In Madrid, they still don’t understand Neymar chose Barca and they are trying to create difficulties for the club and for him,” Josep Bartomeu told Barcelona’s RAC1 radio in an interview back in September. “Let’s see how the trial finishes, but I will never get tired of defending club and player interests.”