Spanish prosecutors are seeking a prison term of more than 10 years for the former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o for alleged tax crimes committed when he played for the Catalan club. In addition to a sentence of 10 years and six months, prosecutors are also demanding a fine of £12.11m for the four counts of tax fraud for supposedly defrauding Spain’s tax authority of almost £3.21m from 2006 to 09, according to court documents released on Thursday.
Prosecutors are seeking the same punishment for the player’s representative at the time, José María Mesalles Mata. The administrator of a company that facilitated the deals, Manuel de Jesus Lastre Abreu, is facing more than six years in prison and a fine of £1.85m. Prosecutors also want Eto’o to relinquish any possible fiscal incentives for a long period.
Eto’o and his lawyers could not be immediately contacted for comment, but in the past the player denied wrongdoing, saying he was not directly involved in his tax matters. Eto’o is among other current and past Barcelona players facing legal problems in Spain. In July, Lionel Messi and his father were sentenced to 21 months in prison for tax fraud, although they were not sent to jail because sentences of less than two years for first offences are usually suspended in Spain.
Neymar and Barcelona are dealing with the Spanish authorities because of the player’s transfer from the Brazilian club Santos in 2013. Prosecutors announced on Wednesday that they are seeking to punish the Brazilian player and his club, as well as his parents, his Brazilian club and its former president because of an investment group’s claim that they concealed the value of the star’s transfer fee.
In June, Barcelona paid a fine of £4.65m after acknowledging to Spain’s tax authority it made “an error in the fiscal planning of the player’s transfer”. Also this year, the Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano was handed a suspended one-year sentence for tax fraud, and the former defender Adriano was also charged with tax irregularities. Eto’o, 35, played for Barcelona from 2004 to 09. The Cameroon striker now plays with the Turkish club Antalyaspor.
Culled from The Guardian