Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano hopes paying a further fine will keep him out of prison after he was found guilty of tax evasion.
Mascherano, who admitted defrauding the treasury of €1.5m euros in 2011 and 2012, has already repaid the money owed – €1.75million, including interest- and paid a hefty fine of €816,000, but the 31-year-old was back in court on Thursday to plead for his sentence of a year in prison to be exchanged for a further fine, a wish which is expected to be granted.
Following his appearance in court on Thursday, Mascherano tweeted a statement which read: “I’m a sporting professional, I don’t have a great understanding of taxes and law.
“To deal with what are for me technical and complicated matters, I have to rely on other people.
“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.”
A filing from court which was released last year confirmed the player has repaid
Mascherano later sought to explain the situation further adding, “After my arrival at Barcelona, I signed up with a prestigious company with an excellent reputation. They made recommendations to me which, I was informed, were procedurally normal, transparent, and accepted by law.
“I was advised by them from 2010 until 2014, when I decided to change companies, because of the legal process that was opened against me.
“My new advisors recommended to pay the taxes [that were ruled to be outstanding]. Now, finally, and after a bitter wait, we have reached this agreement, which makes me calm about having my financial situation in order once again.”
In November the father of Barcelona star Neymar admitted his son was “very insecure and uneasy” about staying in Spain after a number of investigations into their tax situation.