Ex-Footballer Samuel Eto’o pleads guilty to tax fraud to avoid prison time

Ex-Footballer Samuel Eto’o pleads guilty to tax fraud to avoid prison time

Former Cameroon footballer, Samuel Eto’o has struck a deal with Spanish prosecutors to avoid going to jail for tax fraud he committed while playing for Barcelona, a court in the city announced Monday, June 20.

Eto’o, who played for Barcelona from 2004 to 2009, received a fine and a 22-month suspended sentence but will not serve any time, as is customary in Spain for prison terms of under two years for non-violent crimes.

Following the agreement with the government, Eto’o, 41, will pay a fine of 1.8 million euros ($1.9 million).

The record four-time African footballer of the year and Jose Maria Mesalles — his former representative, who for his part was sentenced to 12 months and a fine — must reimburse Spanish tax authorities for the amount defrauded, around 3.9 million euros.

Prosecutors accused Eto’o of failing to declare income from the transfer of image rights between 2006 and 2009.

According to them, Eto’o transferred his image rights to a company based in Hungary which declared his earnings in that country, where the tax rate is one of the “lowest in Europe”.

A second Spanish company declared them in Spain at the corporate tax rate, less than the income tax that should have been paid.

Eto’o was the “real holder of the image rights”, maintained the prosecution, who added that the transfer was fraudulent and only designed to pay less tax.

Eto’o is one of a number of football stars to have had issues with Spanish tax authorities, following the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar, and even managers like Jose Mourinho.

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