Wednesday, July 6

Samuel Eto’o admits that he defrauded 3.8 million and avoids his entry into prison

Samuel Eto’o has returned to Barcelona this Monday and has sat on a bench. But not in the Camp Nou, but in the City of Justice. The former Barça striker has put an end to his lawsuit with the Treasury by admitting a tax fraud of 3.8 million euros in the taxation of his image rights. The former soccer player has been sentenced to 22 months in prison, but he will not set foot in prison.

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The Prosecutor’s Office requested sentences of up to 10 and a half years in prison for Eto’o and his representative, José María Mesalles, for four crimes against the Public Treasury in the years 2006 to 2009, as well as the payment of compensation and fines that exceed the 14 million. The indictments were formulated in 2016 and the trial has not been held until six years later after an agreement between the accusations and defenses.

The pact implies the suspension of Eto’o and Mesalles’ entry into prison (sentenced to one year in prison). Both have agreed to return the amount defrauded.

The tax fraud consisted in the fact that Eto’o unduly taxed the income derived from the transfer of his image rights to the sports brand Puma and FC Barcelona. He had to do it in his personal income tax return, but he did it through two companies, a classic tax fraud of the wealthier classes and millionaires.

In his statement before the magistrate, Eto’o has admitted the simulation of image rights, but has blamed Mesalles for the fraud, who in his time as a player was his representative and his right-hand man. The Cameroonian star has come to refer to Mesalles in terms of paternity.

“It was my father who took care of the boy I was then. I’m going to pay but I’ve always done what my father told me he had to do”, said Eto’o, who was already 25 years old at the time he committed the fraud. One of the experts that he has declared in the trial has corroborated the ex-soccer player’s version by pointing to Mesalles as the ideologue of the fraud.

Eto’o pretended that the soccer player’s image rights had been transferred to two companies resident in Hungary and Spain, so that the income diverted to the Hungarian company was not taxed to the Treasury, while that diverted to the Spanish company was taxed at a rate much lower than that which corresponded to personal income tax.

Specifically, the installments defrauded between 2006 and 2009 were 504,003, 1,283,653, 1,138,000 and 946,965 euros, respectively, amounts that Eto’o and Mesalles have already reimbursed in part and have promised to repay in full. Both convicted have presented a payment plan that the judge has accepted.

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