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Barcelona legend pleads guilty to $4.1M tax fraud

Barcelona legend pleads guilty to $4.1M tax fraud

June 20, 2022 By Emmanuel K. Budu-Annor
The former striker of the Blaugrana has been handed suspended prison sentence over tax fraud.

Barcelona legend and ex-striker Samuel Eto'o has pleaded guilty to tax fraud in Spain, a court in the city announced. The prosecutor accused the player of failing to declare income from the transfer of image rights between 2006 and 2009.

On Monday four-time African footballer of the year appeared at the Ciudad de la Justicia court in Barcelona with his former agent Jose Maria Mesalles. Before the verdict was passed, the player pleaded guilty to transferring his image rights to a company based in Hungary, an act which is deemed as illegal. The company subsequently declared his earnings inside the country where the tax rate is considered as one of the "lowest" in Europe before a second Spanish company declared them in Spain at the corporate tax rate, significantly less than the income tax that should have been paid.

Eto'o, who played for Barcelona from 2004 to 2009, has been fined and given a 22-month suspended sentence. However, the newly appointed head of the Cameroonian football federation will not serve any time as it is common in Spain for prison sentences of less than two years. According to reports, the 41-year-old will pay a fine of $1.9 million and must reimburse Spanish tax authorities for the amount defrauded, around $4.1 million.

The former Barca striker is one of a number of football stars to have been arraigned before a court of justice for trouble with Spanish tax authorities. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar, among others have previously been found guilty.

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