Mascherano Receives Jail Sentence Over Tax Avoidance

Mascherano Hit With Sentence But Is Likely To Be Spared Jail

FC Barcelona

Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano has been sentenced to a year in jail after he was found guilty of tax avoidance. The 31-year-old was found guilty of avoiding €1.5million in taxes and was also fined €816,000. He also paid back the unpaid tax plus €200,000 in interest.

However, the Argentina international is unlikely to find himself behind bars as sentences of less than two years are rarely enforced in Spain.

In a statement after his court appearance today, Mascherano spoke of the circumstances surrounding his tax avoidance which began when he moved to Barcelona from Liverpool in 2010.

“I want to clarify some issues related to recent news about myself,” he said in a statement.

“As of today, I have reached an agreement with the Spanish tax authorities. As such, with the legal side resolved and with the confidence of having sorted my financial situation, I want to issue a short explanation.

“After agreeing to come to Barcelona, I hired a prestigious Spanish tax firm, with renowned professionals and an excellent reputation. In agreement with my situation, they recommended certain structures to me, all within the legal framework, always notifying me that the procedures were common, transparent and in accordance with the law.

“I was advised by said professionals from the year 2010 until 2014, when I decided to change firms before the process was opened against me and with evidence that my problem was no longer a possibility but a reality.

“My new advisors recommended I pay the taxes demanded by the Treasury, presenting what they called ‘corrections’.

“Now, finally and following a bitter delay, we have reached this agreement, which restores to me the peace of mind of having fulfilled my obligations.

“I’m a professional sportsman, I don’t have huge knowledge of tax or legal matters. As such, I lean on the people who handle these technical and, for me, complex terms.

“Throughout my career I’ve been an honest and responsible person, respecting my team-mates, the clubs for whom I have played and the countries where I have chosen to live.

“This situation I’ve had to go through has given me greater experience, from which I move on stronger and relaxed as I knew things were back in order.

“I reserve the possibility of taking action against those who made incorrect assessments and recommended things to me that were not correct.”

The trial of Mascherano’s team-mate Lionel Messi will commence at the end of May. The Barcelona superstar stands trial accused of avoiding over €4million in taxes.