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Lionel Messi's tax fraud sentence reduced to fine

Lionel Messi won't have to serve a custodial sentence after a court in Spain reduced his tax fraud sentence to a fine. He and his father had been accused of avoiding over four million euros in taxes.

A Spanish court has reduced Lionel Messi's suspended prison sentence for tax fraud to a 252,000 euro ($287,000) fine.

Messi, 30, and his father Jorge were handed 21-month and 15-month suspended prison sentences respectively a year ago for tax fraud. The two were found guilty for using companies in Belize, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Uruguay to hide image rights royalties and avoid paying 4.1 million euros in taxes between 2007 and 2009.

Jorge Messi's sentence was reduced to a 180,000 euro fine.

The Argentinian football star and his father had made a payment of 5 million euros - equal to the amount of unpaid taxes plus interest - in August 2013 after being formally investigated.

The Barcelona court said they took these payments into account when changing the sentence to a fine. "This made them both deserving of having their prison sentence substituted with a fine," the court said in its ruling.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has recently signed a new four-year deal with the Catalan giants. The deal is reportedly worth over 500,000 euros a week.

dv/mf (AFP, EFE)

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