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Samuel Eto’o, sentenced to 22 months in prison for tax fraud

BarcelonaFormer Barça player Samuel Eto’o has been sentenced to 22 months in prison on Monday for tax fraud. The Cameroonian will also have to pay 3.8 million euros in civil liability and a fine of 1.8 million to avoid entering a prison. As the sentence is less than two years and he has no criminal record, he will be able to continue his release. The amount will have to be paid jointly and severally with what was its legal representative, José Maria Mesalles, who has accepted a one-year sentence as a necessary cooperator of four tax fraud offenses between 2006 and 2009, when Eto ‘ or it would have stopped paying personal income tax worth 2.25 million of what it generated as image rights.

“I admit it and I will pay, but I have always done what my father asked me to do,” said the former Barça striker, who referred to Mesalles as his parent. Following the confession, the sentence has been handed down in voice in court number 11 of the Barcelona High Court. The prosecution initially asked for 10 years in prison for the four crimes cited, but since Eto’o has paid the amounts defrauded and additional fines, he will not have to see his release deprived, as the punishment is reduced to 22 months. The fraud concerns the transfer of Eto’o’s image rights to Barça and the clothing brand that sponsored him, Puma. It did not declare the personal income tax of these salaries, but simulated that they were owned by two companies: Bulte 2002 SL (Spanish) and Tradesport and Marketing Kft (Hungarian). This maneuver allowed him to save between 10% and 15% in taxes in Spain and between 25% and 35% in Hungary. The personal income tax requested in Spain was 45% between 2006 and 2009.

These are not isolated cases

The case in which Eto’o has pleaded guilty is not the first to affect footballers with a past at Barça. Leo Messi evaded prison for a similar case in 2016. The Argentine star was found guilty of three tax offenses: for fraud in 2007, a sentence of seven months in prison and a fine of 532,313 euros; for the year 2008, a sentence of seven months and a fine of 792,300 euros, and for the year 2009, also seven months in prison and 768,387 euros. In total, Messi was fined more than two million euros. Unlike Eto’o, Rosario did not accept guilt in court. Like the Cameroonian, Javier Mascherano acted in 2016, when he pleaded guilty to two offenses of tax fraud in 2011 and 2012 for a total of 1.5 million euros. Jefecito paid a fine of 815,000 euros and accepted a year in prison.



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