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Spanish Supreme Court set to rule on Lionel Messi tax fraud sentence

Lionel Messi and his father Jorge were sentenced last year.

Prosecutors have asked the Spanish Supreme Court to review the suspended 21-month prison sentences given to Lionel Messi and his father Jorge after a Barcelona court found them guilty of three counts of tax fraud last year.

Messi and his father were sentenced on July 6. The Supreme Court is this week reviewing their appeals and must decide whether to confirm the punishment or alter it.

A ruling is expected in the coming days.

Prosecutors in last year's case said Messi and his father had used tax havens in Belize and Uruguay as well as shell companies in the U.K. and Switzerland to avoid paying taxes totalling €4.1 million on earnings from image rights between 2007 and 2009.

Messi, 29, was also ordered to pay a fine of about €2m, while his father was fined €1.5m.

He said last year that he signed many documents without reading their contents and had visited a notary's office to set up a company to handle his finances without understanding what was going on.

But Mario Maza, the state attorney representing the tax authorities at the trial, said last year he found it unlikely that Messi knew nothing about the situation.

"It could be that they are inexperienced with tax matters and the law and are not able to set up their own companies, but they are able to understand what paying your taxes means," he added.

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

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