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Mascherano escapes prison sentence for tax fraud

The defender has reached an agreement with authorities and will not have to spend time behind bars.

Image: Manu Fernandez

Updated 16.30

BARCELONA DEFENDER JAVIER Mascherano has reached an agreement with Spanish authorities concerning charges of tax fraud, which will see him avoid jail time.

The Argentina international appeared in court today in an effort to avoid a custodial sentence as a result of two counts of tax evasion. Mascherano had failed to declare earnings in 2011 and 2012 which amounted to €1.5m.

The earnings concerned are believed to relate to his image rights.

Mascherano had been handed a year in prison and a significant fine but the former Liverpool man reached an agreement which will see him pay a fine of €816,000 and serve a one-year suspended sentence.

He has also suggested he could pursue legal action against the firm which he claims gave him poor advice and which led to the case being opened.

“I want to clarify some issues related to recent news about myself,” Mascherano said in a statement.

“As of today, I have reached an agreement with the Spanish tax authorities. As such, with the legal side resolved and with the confidence of having sorted my financial situation, I want to issue a short explanation.

“After agreeing to come to Barcelona, I hired a prestigious Spanish tax firm, with renowned professionals and an excellent reputation. In agreement with my situation, they recommended certain structures to me, all within the legal framework, always notifying me that the procedures were common, transparent and in accordance with the law.

“I was advised by said professionals from the year 2010 until 2014, when I decided to change firms before the process was opened against me and with evidence that my problem was no longer a possibility but a reality.

My new advisors recommended I pay the taxes demanded by the Treasury, presenting what they called ‘corrections’.

“Now, finally and following a bitter delay, we have reached this agreement, which restores to me the peace of mind of having fulfilled my obligations.

“I’m a professional sportsman, I don’t have huge knowledge of tax or legal matters. As such, I lean on the people who handle these technical and, for me, complex terms.

“Throughout my career I’ve been an honest and responsible person, respecting my team-mates, the clubs for whom I have played and the countries where I have chosen to live.

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