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Barcelona star Javier Mascherano is sentenced to a year in prison over £1.2million tax fraud – but is set to avoid jail by paying £625,000 fine

Javier Mascherano has been sentenced to a year in prison and fined €815,000 (£625,000) for two tax offences.

However, the Barcelona star is not likely to be spending a year behind bars, after his lawyer David Aineto requested the prison sentence to be substituted for the fine, which he is yet pay.

Mascherano’s lawyer is also attempting to have the offences removed from his criminal record by paying an additional fine.

In Spain people handed sentences of less than two years are not normally required to serve their sentence, unless they are being punished for violent crime, if they agree to a fine.

Javier Mascherano leaves court in Barcelona on Thursday after admitting two counts of tax fraud
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Javier Mascherano leaves court in Barcelona on Thursday after admitting two counts of tax fraud
The Barcelona and Argentina player was handed a one-year prison sentence, which will not be applied
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The Barcelona and Argentina player was handed a one-year prison sentence, which will not be applied
Mascherano (left), who paid the amount with interest last year, has to pay a fine of £625,000
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Mascherano (left), who paid the amount with interest last year, has to pay a fine of £625,000

Mascherano, 31, was given four-month and eight-month sentences for the two offences which took place in 2011 and 2012.

The Argentine star had already repaid the full €1.6million (£1.15million) debt owed to the tax authorities before he was given his punishment.
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Barcelona’s Argentinian defender Javier Mascherano (R) vies with Las Palmas’ forward Wakaso during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs UD Las Palmas at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on September 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ LLUIS GENELLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images Javier Mascherano charged with two counts of tax fraud…

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Mascherano also paid the interest on the money, but has still been hit with a new fine.

His tax offences were for failing to declare earnings from image rights he ceded to companies which he owns in Portugal and the United States.
MASCHERANO RESPONDS IN A STATEMENT

Through this communication I would like to clarify some of the questions that have recently been linked to me.

Today I have reached a full and final settlement with the Spanish tax authorities that has been agreed by all parties. Now that the matter has been finally resolved, and with the peace of mind of knowing that the situation has reached an end I would like to make a short statement.

After agreeing my arrival at Barcelona I engaged the services of a prestigious Spanish tax firm of the highest professional standing and excellent reputation.

Having in consideration my situation, they recommended to me certain financial structures, all of which they informed me were common practise, totally transparent and accepted by the law.

I was assessed by these professionals from 2010 until 2014 when I decided to change my advisors in view of the proceedings that had been initiated against me along with evidence that my problem was no longer just a possibility but had become a reality.
The hearing on Thursday lasted only 10 minutes, according to reports in Spain
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The hearing on Thursday lasted only 10 minutes, according to reports in Spain

My new advisors recommended that I should pay all the taxes being reclaimed by the Inland Revenue presenting what is referred to as ‘corrections’ over all the relevant fiscal years.

Now, finally, and after a bitter and painful episode in my life I have finally reached agreement which leaves me safe in the knowledge that I am fully up to date with all my financial obligations.

I am a professional sportsman and I do not have great knowledge of neither legal nor tax-related matters. For that reason I need to rely on the support of those people trained to deal with such matters that, for me, are complicated.

Throughout my career I have been honest and responsible, respecting my team mates at the clubs and all those countries where I have lived.

This situation I have found myself in I will treat as one more experience in my life from which, hopefully, I can emerge stronger, at peace and content in the knowledge that I am once again in compliance with the law.

I reserve the right to take possible action against those advisors who mismanaged my affairs and recommended things to me that were not correct.

Mascherano was handed a four-month sentence and an eight-month sentence for the separate offences
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Mascherano was handed a four-month sentence and an eight-month sentence for the separate offences
The former Liverpool midfielder pictured arriving at the court for Thursday’s hearing in Barcelona
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The former Liverpool midfielder pictured arriving at the court for Thursday’s hearing in Barcelona

Mascherano published an open letter after the verdict in which he insisted he was an ‘honest and responsible person’.

He wrote: ‘After agreeing my arrival at Barcelona I engaged the services of a prestigious Spanish tax firm of the highest professional standing and excellent reputation.

‘Having in consideration my situation, they recommended to me certain financial structures, all of which they informed me were common practise, totally transparent and accepted by the law.

‘I was assessed by these professionals from 2010 until 2014 when I decided to change my advisors in view of the proceedings that had been initiated against me along with evidence that my problem was no longer just a possibility but had become a reality.

‘My new advisors recommended that I should pay all the taxes being reclaimed by the Inland Revenue presenting what is referred to as ‘corrections’ over all the relevant fiscal years.

Mascherano lawyer is hoping to reach agreement for him to pay another fine instead of going to jail
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Mascherano lawyer is hoping to reach agreement for him to pay another fine instead of going to jail
Mascherano (centre) was in action for Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday night
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Mascherano (centre) was in action for Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday night

‘Now, finally, and after a bitter and painful episode in my life I have finally reached agreement which leaves me safe in the knowledge that I am fully up to date with all my financial obligations.

‘I am a professional sportsman and I do not have great knowledge of neither legal nor tax-related matters. For that reason I need to rely on the support of those people trained to deal with such matters that, for me, are complicated.

‘Throughout my career I have been honest and responsible, respecting my team mates at the clubs and all those countries where I have lived.

‘This situation I have found myself in I will treat as one more experience in my life from which, hopefully, I can emerge stronger, at peace and content in the knowledge that I am once again in compliance with the law.

‘I reserve the right to take possible action against those advisors who mismanaged my affairs and recommended things to me that were not correct.’
Family man: Mascherano and his wife Fernanda pictured on holiday in Formentera in 2013
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Family man: Mascherano and his wife Fernanda pictured on holiday in Formentera in 2013

Mascherano is not the only Barcelona star who is having financial problems, with Messi set for a court appearance later this year after he and his father were also charged with tax fraud through image rights arrangements.

Messi’s trial has been set for May 31-June 3, conflicting with the start of the centennial Copa America in the United States.

The Copa America Centenario will kick off June 3, meaning the five-time world player of the year will not have the best of preparations ahead of Argentina’s opening game.

Messi’s lawyers are expected to try to change the trial dates.

Meanwhile, in September Neymar had over £30m of assets frozen after being accused of not paying all his taxes.
MASCHERANO TAX EVASION Q&A

Javier Mascherano has been given a year in prison and a hefty fine. Will he serve his sentence?

The judge must decide in the coming days if he has to or not, but it is extremely unlikely that he will be put behind bars. Mascherano’s lawyer has offered to pay a fine in exchange for keeping his client out of prison, which will be looked at favourably by the court. In Spain, if you are given a sentence of two years or less you are not required to serve it, unless the reason for the punishment is violent crime.

What did he do to get in this mess?

Mascherano had not announced earnings of his own image rights, which he had ceded to companies in the USA and Portugal – companies which he owns. He says he was badly advised to do that. The mistakes were made back in 2011 and 2012.

Is it his fault?

Everybody is responsible for their own finances and the punishment handed to Mascherano reflects that. However, he has reserved the right to take action against the people that encouraged him to go down a route which proved illegal.

Has Mascherano paid back the money?

As soon as the wrongdoing was highlighted, Mascherano paid back the money – around £1.15m, as well as £150,000 in interest. He now has another £625,000 to add on top – plus the fine in lieu of his year in prison.

Is this going to affect his form?

The case has dragged on for a while and doesn’t seem to be affecting the Argentine too badly on the pitch.

Will he continue to be called up by Barcelona?

He published a statement on Barcelona’s website after his sentence was decided, in which he insisted he was back within the law and that he would emerge from the incident stronger. Given Barcelona have continued to play Neymar and Lionel Messi, despite similar tax problems, there’s no reason to believe Mascherano will be dropped.

So, what will the overall outcome be?

Mascherano keeps playing for Barcelona, the judge agrees to let him pay a fine instead of going to prison, he stumps up and continues his life. Perhaps opposition fans will chant about him and his financial problems, like Espanyol supporters did to Messi recently, demanding Mascherano’s compatriot pays his taxes.

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Javier Mascherano admits two counts of tax fraud totalling…
Barcelona’s Argentinian defender Javier Mascherano (R) vies with Las Palmas’ forward Wakaso during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs UD Las Palmas at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on September 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ LLUIS GENELLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images Javier Mascherano charged with two counts of tax fraud…

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Barcelona’s Argentinian defender Javier Mascherano walks after leaving the courthouse on January 21, 2016 in Barcelona. Javier Mascherano of FC Barcelona agreed today before a Spanish judge a one year prison sentence, which won’t be applied, and a fine of 816,000 euros for 1.5 million fraud. AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGOJOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images Barcelona star Javier Mascherano is sentenced to a year in…
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Paul 5358, Warrington, United Kingdom, about an hour ago

Notaxmar got away with the same , pure greed .
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tom, rotherham, about an hour ago

For a first offence in Spain you don’t go to gaol for sentences under two years. It’s daft, but there it is. This means he won’t be locked up. It’s a bit like a suspended sentence. Next up Leo Messi.
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paulmac38, liverpool city region, about an hour ago

great player! wish Liverpool still had him! yep, we miss “The General”. 🙁
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Theo, WARRINGTON Cheshire, United Kingdom, about an hour ago

At least their tax people finally caught up with him and made him pay up. If it had been our HMRC they would have taken him out to lunch and asked him deferentially to pay, but far less than he owed, because that’s what they do for the rich and famous.
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SSCNapoliCurvaA, Bideford North Devon, United Kingdom, about an hour ago

He reminds me so much of Murr from Impractical Jokers
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Master John, uSA, United States, about an hour ago

Money Talks! I can’t hear ACDC in the background.. it must be nice…
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Snow_Joke, London Town, United Kingdom, about an hour ago

Always helps if you have the money for the best lawyers.. makes all the difference to the outcome sometimes..
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Kirkham11, Stafford, United Kingdom, about an hour ago

If you break the law you should suffer the consequences regardless of how rich or poor you are
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marcus1, epping, United Kingdom, about an hour ago

What do you expect? Thug who couldn’t get in West Ham’s team…
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Kirkham11, Stafford, United Kingdom, about an hour ago

Money should not get in the way of justice
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rodeodrive, London and LA, United Kingdom, about an hour ago

He should be punished to play for ArseNIL for a month. He’ll soon cough up the fine.
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Lovren eyes return to action after picking up Player of the Month gong
The centre back has struggled with injuries of late but is starting to win the critics round
Ronda Rousey relaxes in LA after Octagon return is put back until after UFC 200
No prospect of a fight until the second half of the year
Two happy Leicester stars and one foxy washbag: Vardy and Fuchs celebrate late win over Tottenham
Foxes everywhere after latest triumph
E
Arsenal unveil £5m midfielder Elneny after he completes move from Basle
Mohamed Elneny is their first signing of the January transfer window
South Africa bowler Steyn spending two hours a day in a hyperbaric chamber and has Red Hot Chili Peppers book with him
Out of third Test
EH
Hazard watches Chelsea draw with West Brom from the stands
The Belgian, who has been sidelined with a groin injury, checked his phone before the game
Rafa
Rafa back at Anfield after Madrid sacking
Rafa Benitez was back at a familiar haunt after parting ways with the Spanish giants earlier this month
Thiago Silva makes fashion faux pas in new £105 PSG jacket
As any style conscious dresser will attest: ‘Everyone knows you don’t do double denim’
Make-up free Rousey strolls through California as UFC star insists: I need more time off
Ronda Rousey’s scars from Holly Holm defeat appear to have healed
Mayweather continues his tour of basketball arenas by watching the New York Knicks alongside Spike Lee
At Madison Square Garden
Srnicek memorial sees Shearer and Beardsley among those paying respects to former Newcastle goalkeeper
Service ended with ‘Pavel is a Geordie’ chant

Season at a glance

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by.www.dailymail.co.u

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