Barcelona and Argentina’s Javier Mascherano has been gifted with a one-year prison sentence and a fine of 816,000 euros ($956,000) before a Spanish Court on Thursday, January 21, for committing tax frauds of up to 1.5 million euros.
The 30 year old, who was in court on Thursday morning, pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion, as he admitted defrauding the treasury of €1.5m euros over 2011 and 2012, but insisted he had no idea about it.
However, the Barcelona defender 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 to pay, Daily Mail reports.
It was learnt that 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.
Mascherano published a statement after the verdict in which he insisted he was an ‘honest and responsible person’.
“I’m very relieved to know I am back in line,” Mascherano said in a statement published on his official Twitter account.
“I am a professional sportsman, I don’t have great knowledge of tax and legal matters. Therefore, I have to rely on people that manage these technical issues.
“During my whole career I have been an honest and responsable, respectful to my teammates and the clubs I have represented and the countries I have lived in.”
Meanwhile, 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, 2016, conflicting with the start of the centennial Copa America in the United States.