Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Horacio saw their suspended prison sentences for tax fraud reduced to fines by a Barcelona court on Friday. The pair had been convicted of hiding image rights royalties in offshore accounts and had been given suspended jail terms of 21 and 15 months. Messi will pay 252,000 euros ($287,000) and his father 180,000 euros.
Earlier in May, Spain's Supreme Court had confirmed a 21-month jail sentence and 2.09-million-euro ($2.25 million) fine imposed on Messi for tax fraud, months after the Barcelona football star lodged an appeal. The Argentina international and his father were found 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 in July 2016.
The income related to Messi's image rights that was hidden includes endorsement deals with Danone, Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter & Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company.
During last year's trial, Messi had argued that he trusted his father with his finances and "knew nothing" about how his wealth was managed.
Messi's tax fraud trial in June last year took place against a backdrop of simmering voter anger over steep cuts to health and social spending, as the government struggles to bring Spain's public deficit down.