Cameroon Football President Samuel Eto’o Jailed 2 Years For Tax Fraud
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By Agency Report
Cameroon Football Federation, FECAFOOT, President Samuel Eto’o was on Monday handed a 22-month suspended prison sentence by Spanish courts after he admitted defrauding £3.3million in taxes between 2006 and 2009 while playing in Spain.
The one-time forward and his former agent have both avoided serving jail terms following charges at Barcelona Criminal Court
The Cameroon legend and former Barcelona striker, 41, admitted to defrauding the Spanish treasury of £3.3million between 2006 and 2009 while playing for the Catalan club.
The former Inter Millan striker did not declare the income he received from the transfer of his image rights between Puma and the La Liga giants, rather he taxed the image rights through two separate companies, one in Hungary and the other in Spain, allowing him to save money, reports Spanish publication Sport
Eto’o has been ordered to pay a sum of four fines in response, around the sum of €1.8m (£1.6m/$1.9m), but has avoided an immediate jail term in part due to his prior clean record and because he has already returned some of the defrauded money.
The former attacker – a quadruple Champions League winner with three clubs, who enjoyed prolific spells in Spain, Italy, England and Turkey – accepted the charges while stating that he had been misled by his former advisor Jose Maria Mesalles, against whom he has launched a separate lawsuit.
Eto’o alleges that the mismanagement of his finances – which saw the player’s image rights between sportswear giant Puma and Barcelona go undeclared through the use of two external companies in Hungary and Spain – came at the latter’s instigation, to whom the player previously described as a “father figure”.
“I recognise the facts and I am going to pay, but let it be known that I was a child then and that I always did what my father asked me to do,” the 41-year-old read in a statement in court, per Sport.
Eto’o, four-time Africa Footballer of the Year, is not the only individual to be indicted and plead guilty, with Mesalles also handed a suspended sentence of a year for his part in committing the fraud.
A third individual – Jesus Lastre, the administrator of the Hungarian-based company – was meanwhile acquitted on all charges.
It remains to be seen whether Eto’o will be forced to stand down from the office of President of the Cameroonian Football Federation, FECAFOOT following his conviction.