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Messi and Father sentenced for tax evasion connected to Belize - Barcelona soccer player superstar Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Horacio Messi were sentenced to 21 months in jail for tax fraud that includes links to Belize. The Barcelona court had found Messi and his father guilty of using companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros of Messi's income earned from his image rights from 2007-09.

The income related to Messi's image rights that was allegedly hidden includes endorsement deals with Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter & Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company. Messi will appeal the charges and vowed to clear his name. He told the court during the four-day trial that wrapped up on June 4 that he trusted his father with his finances and "knew nothing" about how his wealth was managed.

The prison sentences are likely to be suspended as is common in Spain for first offences for non-violent crimes carrying a sentence of less than two years. Messi, 29, a five-time world player of the year winner, was also fined 2.09 million euros while his father was fined 1.6 million euros.

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Dorian Nuñez

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