Mascherano sentenced over fraud

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© Ludovic Peron.

ANOTHER Argentine and Barcelona buoy has faced the wrath of the Spanish tax man as defender Javier Mascherano was slapped with a one-year prison sentence over financial discrepancies.

The former West Ham and Liverpool man isn’t expected to actually serve any time given the Spanish system of suspending light sentences, and his ability to immediately pay an €800,000 (£611,000) fine.

Another fine is likely to be issued, while the 31-year-old will also be ineligible for any tax benefits for one year, though this is unlikely to make much of a dent in his €171,000 (£131,000) a week salary. 

Having played for Barcelona from 2010, the 31-year-old was accused of failing to declare earnings from his image rights, very similar accusations to those levied against fellow Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father. 

The Spanish tax office estimated that nearly €1.5m (£1.14 million) in taxes were unpaid for 2011 and 2012, while the Argentina international released a statement on Twitter stating “I’m a sporting professional, I don’t have a great understanding of tax and legal matters.”

“Throughout all my career I have been an honest person, responsible and respectful of my team-mates and the clubs that I have played for and the countries I have lived in.

“I reserve the possibility of action against those who have badly advised me by recommending something that was not right.”

Mascherano has claimed he was given bad advice by the money men around him, a defence that mirrors Messi’s protestation of moral innocence. 

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